Copy and Paste Isn’t Safe?

Copy and paste is an integral computing tool we all use every day. When you need to rewrite text from one app verbatim in another, or you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle, copy and and paste is there for you. However, it seems it’s also there for bad actors and hackers. In some cases, nefarious apps have
October 18, 2022
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meritsolutions
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Copy and paste is an integral computing tool we all use every day. When you need to rewrite text from one app verbatim in another, or you simply don’t want to deal with the hassle, copy and and paste is there for you. However, it seems it’s also there for bad actors and hackers.

In some cases, nefarious apps have abused copy and paste to steal information from your devices. Here’s how it works: When you copy something on your smartphone or computer, it’s saved to your device’s clipboard. The app in question has access to that clipboard, since you could copy and paste yourself in that app. Bad apps have, on occasion, taken data from your clipboard without your permission and pasted it for their own needs.

While not necessarily widespread, the issue popped up enough to pose a privacy concern for Apple. First, the company added an alert whenever you paste content you copied from another app. However, with iOS 16, they went a step further, and built a new permission into the iPhone: Now, all apps must ask permission before pasting content from a separate app.

You might have run into this pop-up if using an iPhone running at least iOS 16. It will state the app you’re using wants to paste content from another app, and you’ll need to say yes or no. Sometimes, the answer will be yes, and you may be slightly annoyed to deal with a pop-up for something that you approve of. However, if you don’t know why the app is trying to paste content from another app, you can say no, and save yourself from potential data theft.

There have been complaints about these pop-ups occurring far too often, and Apple is working on fixing that. The next big update, iOS 16.1, will introduce refinements to the feature, allowing you to control which apps have asked for pasting permission and what those permissions should be:

  • Ask: The app should ask each time it wants to paste content from another app.
  • Deny: The app can never paste from another app.
  • Allow: The app can paste whatever it likes.

It’s important to know this doesn’t apply to your ability to copy and paste. Whenever you choose the paste option, whether that’s from the submenu or from a paste button in the app, you’ll be able to paste without issue. The permission applies to apps that access the clipboard themselves.

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