- New research has found that some apps access the iPhone’s pasteboard
- These apps include popular social media apps like TikTok and news apps
- The researchers don’t know what the apps do with the text they read from the pasteboard
Apple’s pasteboard is a useful tool for all iPhone users. This tool, which is found in other iDevices, is where copied text gets placed so that users can simply paste them anywhere. This is particularly useful for those times when it’s difficult to copy user login details such as usernames and passwords, or when there’s a need to copy an URL to a certain website.
While pasteboard is generally helpful, MacRumors reported that a new research has found that certain apps can look at what’s in it without the user’s consent.
Research conducted by Talal Haj Bakry and Tommy Mysk of Msyk found that many popular apps in the App Store access the pasteboard without telling iPhone users about it. These apps, which include popular games and news apps from major new organizations, quietly read the text in the pasteboard everytime they are opened.
Some of these apps request for permission to read the contents of the pasteboard whenever they are launched. Interestingly, some apps which do not provide a UI that deals with any text also reads what’s in the pasteboard. The researchers included both kinds of apps for the investigation.
The researchers found that while the apps can access the pasteboard, they ignore non-text types of data such as PDF files, images, and so on. These apps only show interest in reading the text in it. The researchers, however, do not know what the apps do with the text.
While some might think that it’s not that much of a problem considering that the apps only read pasteboard text, it actually is. Some users might have private and confidential information such as usernames and passwords, as well as addresses and so on. And the fact that what the apps –and the developers behind them– do with the text is unknown makes it even more serious.
Barky and Mysk listed the names of the apps that have unrestricted access to the pasteboard. These include apps from ABC News, Fox News, The New York Times, Reuters, Russia Today (RT), and The Wall Street Journal, among other news apps. It also includes games like “Fruit Ninja,” “PUBG Mobile,” and “Tomb of the Mask,” and social media apps like “”TikTok,” “Viber” and “Weibo.”