Is It Safe To Copy And Paste Passwords?

Smartphone with a lock and key on it
A smartphone with a lock and key on it, atop a computer keyboard. Image credit: Sashkin/

A password is something that you don’t want to lose. You also don’t want hackers to get access to it. How do you prevent a hacker from stealing your password? The answer is complicated, because there are multiple ways that a thief can steal your passwords, card numbers, keys, among other sensitive information. The clipboard plays a crucial role here.

How A Clipboard Works

On Windows, Linux, and Android at the very least, there is something called a clipboard. When you copy something either by pressing Ctrl + C or right clicking it and selecting ‘Copy‘, it is copied to your device’s clipboard. All apps can access the contents of your clipboard (Microsoft confirms that for Windows here).

This means that if you copy your passwords or card numbers to the clipboard, apps (including malicious apps) can steal them. Clipboard-scraping malware is already an issue (as well as clipboard-altering malware). Being an app, your browser can access the contents of you clipboard as well. That’s why you can paste a password into a website.

An Idea That Might Help

It may be possible for operating system vendors to redesign the clipboard (or build something else) so that instead of copying text to the clipboard, it is just marked for copying and then transferred directly without the clipboard when the user presses Ctrl + V.