iOS 14 Exposes Apps That Spy On Your Clipboard Data

Imran Hussain
App Store

iOS 14 is still in beta but it has exposed a number of popular apps, including LinkedIn and TikTok, that read the iPhone clipboard regularly, without any reason or permissions. For some apps, it is understandable if they automatically copy content from the clipboard to provide a feature that enhances user experience, but as you will see from these list of apps, most of them do not even have any text field, or relevant functionality, that would provide any benefit to the end-user from reading the clipboard.

iOS 14 has a new feature that notifies the user every time an app pastes data from the clipboard, whether it is intentional or automatically. Because iOS devices and Macs use a feature called Universal Clipboard, which allows them to copy and paste content between each other, these apps are able to snoop on a lot of content which might include passwords, credit card details, banking details, and much more.

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Here is a list of the apps discovered so far that have been found guilty of accessing clipboard data:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Call of Duty
  3. Fruit Ninja
  4. PUBG Mobile
  5. Accuweather
  6. AliExpress
  7. Google News
  8. Tik Tok
  9. Reddit
  10. Overstock
  11. Paetron
  12. ABC News
  13. Al Jazeera English
  14. CBC News
  15. CBS News
  16. CNBC
  17. Fox News
  18. News Break
  19. New York Times
  20. NPR
  21. ntv Nachrichten
  22. Reuters
  23. Russia Today
  24. Stern Nachrichten
  25. The Economist
  26. The Huffington Post
  27. The Wall Street Journal
  28. Vice News
  30. Hotel Tonight
  31. The Weather Network
  32. Sky Ticket
  33. TruCaller
  34. ToTalk
  35. Tok
  36. Viber
  37. Weibo
  38. Zoosk
  39. 8 Ball Pool
  40. Amaze!!!
  41. Bejeweled
  42. Block Puzzle
  43. Classic Bejeweled
  44. Classic Bejeweled HD
  45. Golfmasters
  46. Plants vs Zombies Heroes
  47. Bed Bath & Beyond

Here is a video which shows how these apps spy on your clipboard every time you copy something:

To understand the extent to which apps like LinkedIn snoop on your private data in the clipboard, here is an example shared on Twitter:

Whether the clipboard data is synced to the server or not, the point of exposing these apps is that they have no business to access clipboard data like this. There is no good reason to do so.

Many of the developers behind these apps, including LinkedIn and Tik Tok, have publicly announced that they will stop this practice. Even though Tik Tok had promised to fix this before, they never fixed the issue. Casey Newton of The Verge explained these 'bugs' in the best way:

If you think that this issue only exists on iOS, it also impacts Android. Most Android apps can even access clipboard data, when they are in the background, which makes them even more dangerous than their iOS counterparts. Android changed this behavior with version 10, but we know how many users actually get to use the latest Android updates.

Until these apps push out updates that fix the clipboard issues, beware of what you copy on your devices.

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