It is always a good idea to be concerned about the security of your data, especially when it comes to your login credentials for websites. With that in mind, just how secure is the Windows Clipboard? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a worried reader’s question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

“The Dogs of Cyberwar” artwork courtesy of Charis Tsevis (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader minerz029 wants to know how secure the Windows Clipboard is:

I have been using the Windows Clipboard as a method of transferring passwords from LastPass to desktop applications, but have been wondering exactly how secure it is? Can any program access the clipboard at any time?

How secure is the Windows Clipboard?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor Keltari has the answer for us:

It is not secure. See the response regarding this topic from shared below:

The Windows clipboard is not secure. This is a quote from an MSDN article:

  • The Clipboard can be used to store data, such as text and images. Because the Clipboard is shared by all active processes, it can be used to transfer data between them.

This should probably apply to Linux machines as well.

Is this a concern? No. For someone to exploit this, they would have had to place malware on your computer capable of reading data from the Windows Clipboard. If they have the ability to place malware on your computer, then you have much bigger things to worry about since there are plenty of other things they can do (such as installing keyloggers, etc.).

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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