ClipboardCleaner V. 1.2.1: check and clean your clipboard before you are feasted upon!

in utopian-io •  last month

Internet security is one major challenge that's being faced by both individuals and businesses around the world. Since the onset of this century, there has been astronomical growth of internet-enabled mobile devices. And as this new industry continues to experience growth, it also becomes the number one target for cyber attack.

Mobile security is the protection of portable devices against cyber threats. Examples of such portable devices that can be so protected include smart watches, laptops, phones and tablets. Most people, today, store a lot of sensitive information on these devices. This makes the need for protection to become even more critical.

Mobile banking apps were said to be among the top three most used apps by Americans. This is not different from what's found in other countries of the world. In fact, it has become normal for folks to access their emails and social media pages via smartphones and laptops. People do this at will without seeing anything wrong about it. Normally, many people know the importance of having security softwares installed in their desktop and notebook computers. However, the same cannot be said of people's security consciousness with respect to Android devices. Many hardly believe that security of Android devices can be compromised.

This is explained partly by the fact that Spyware on a mobile device doesn't behave like a virus on a desktop computer. Unlike its behavior on desktop computers, Spyware on a mobile phone is designed not to destroy or disturb anything. Its mission is basically to secretly obtain and transmit data, without detection, to people with questionable intentions. Many Android phone users don't know this fact and so continue to fall victim to the activities of internet criminals. I am no exception to this fact. I used to pay less attention to mobile security issues until I lost access to a Yahoo account I used to have in the past. That was when the reality dawned upon me. Hence, I started to be more security conscious. In being securing conscious, I have downloaded quite a number of security enhancing applications to help improve my security on the internet. One of such apps that I downloaded is NetGuard, which I had reviewed here and here in the past.

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ClipboardCleaner is the second security enhancing application that I use on my phone, and which I will be reviewing in this article. I guess from its name, you already know what the app is meant to achieve. Even at that, it's a fact many people are less informed about clipboard security hole. So, I won't be surprised if you question the need for reviewing such app. But, hey! Take a chill pill. I am going to open your eyes in this article.

Getting to know ClipboardCleaner app

I never knew clipboard is vulnerable to attack until recently. What prompted my attention to this unpopular security hole was my experience with an Instagram Repost app. Being a crypto enthusiast, I am a very security conscious person. I am mindful of my activities on the internet. Sometime ago I copied an Instagram sharing link to clipboard with intention to paste and save it on my notepad. But soon after copying it, I was surprised to see a notification pop-up from the Repost app, prompting me to share the link.

I became jittery and wondered why an app that wasn't even running would have access to the phone's clipboard in the first place. So I decided to investigate why. Digging deeper, I discovered that Android clipboard content and its changes can be gotten by any app. And this is a serious security hole for the following reasons:

  • Folks copy and paste all sort of things to clipboard including passwords, contact information, credit card numbers, personal messages, email addresses, etc. Usually, people who always copy and paste sensitive data without bathing an eyelid are not security conscious.

  • More security conscious folks may make use of password managers like 1Password and LastPast. Even at that, these apps don't entirely discourage habit of copying and pasting. Hence, the threat is still there.

So for as long as you copy data to clipboard, such data stand the risk of being harvested by any app. This includes malicious types that have been infested with spyware which is capable of sending your information to an external server where criminal elements can do who-knows-what with it. Having known this fact, I sought for a way to monitor my clipboard content in real time and clean it when necessary. My investigation led to the discovery of ClipboardCleaner app. So what's ClipboardCleaner app?

ClipboardCleaner app and my impression about it

From all I have said so far, I believe you already know what this app is all about without being told. Ain't it? Even if that's the case, I'll still go ahead to give some concise details of the app for reference purposes.

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ClipboardCleaner app simply gives you some ways to check and clean your clipboard. It is a common experience to copy data to clipboard and forget you did so. It happens to everyone. And the more you leave such information on the clipboard, the more the risk of being listened to by other apps including malicious ones. ClipboardCleaner app provides quick ways to see if there is data on the clipboard and clean it when necessary.

Personally, I'd describe the app as a straightforward mobile security tool. It doesn't have unnecessary complex button functionalities that make using some mobile applications a Herculean task. The UI is very user-friendly with no grid view option or complicated drop-down menu. This makes it easy for users to immediately see all the available feature-buttons in one page once they open the app. Hence, there won't be need to click and click before you'll be able access some features.

I always prefer apps that show feature-buttons in the home page without drop-down menu options. In ClipboardCleaner app, all features are arranged in scrollable list view format. Once you open the app, you just head straight and click on the particular feature you want to make use of.

What I don't like about the app, however, is the fact that it doesn't have different selectable theme formats. Its default white theme may not be suitable for some types of individuals. Some folks with eye issues may find it difficult to look at the bright white theme especially in the night. This is a very big constraint to its usability that I'd like the developers to look into. The app is amazing, and so is supposed to have multiple theme options in order to serve interests of different individuals.

Personally, I'd prefer white on black/grey background theme option. I guess this is common in most apps as it's the most sought after theme in the night. Having such option in ClipboardCleaner app won't be bad at all. And will help broaden the user base of the app. I think the developers should seriously consider this suggestion.

Reviews of the app's features/functionalities

Like I had said before, ClipboardCleaner app is a very simple app; it is primarily used to monitor and clean clipboard when necessary. Different functionalities of the app represent different ways of achieving the same result — to monitor and clean the clipboard. This means that you can decide to use a different functionality to arrive at the same result.

Here, I am going to demonstrate how to use three different features of the app to arrive at the same result.

Manual approach

I call this manual approach because for each time you wish to use the app, you have to manually open it to be able to use it. I consider this option as a time-consuming process. This is because for every time you copied data to clipboard, you have to manually open the app and clean the clipboard. Again, where you're not sure, you still have to open the app to check the content of the clipboard.

Below is the screenshot image of the manual approach demonstration

Let's assume I had copied My password to clipboard a while ago but now can't really remember if I did. So, I decided to use ClipboardCleaner manual approach to check.

Here, what I need to do is to open the app and click on the Content button as shown by the first image below. You notice that once I clicked on the Content button, the app displays My password as shown in the second image. Any app including malicious ones can have access to the displayed data which in this case is: My password. So, I need to tap on the Clean button to erase My password off the clipboard. The two subsequent images demonstrate this.

Normal app view

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Click on the "Content" button to find out what's copied to the clipboard

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Click on "Clean" button to erase off the clipboard data

Screenshot_20190317-124402_270.jpg

Click on the "Content" button again to see if the data has been cleaned

Screenshot_20190317-124417_270.jpg

Service approach

This is an automated solution for the same issue under discourse. It is the approach I like to use because you won't be opening and closing app every now and then unlike the manual approach. I highly recommend this approach for those who spend most of their time on the internet.

Here, the service is set up to run in the background while keeping an eye on the clipboard for any changes. And in case of any changes to the clipboard, it will either clean it automatically or alert you as a reminder that you may have forgotten to clean the clipboard.

Screenshot_20190317-124537_270.jpg

In the above image, just tick appropriate box to choose the way you want the app to run — whether to clean the clipboard automatically or alert you to do so. After selecting appropriate service, click on the Start Service button to launch the program.

I noticed that this solution is efficient; however, it is battery-draining. So before you opt for it, make sure that your battery is a strong type.

Shortcut approach

This option, though manual, but not as time consuming as the aforementioned manual approach. You use it to create two app shortcuts on your home screen — one for cleaning the clipboard while the other is for "showing/checking content" of the clipboard. This allows you to avoid opening the app each time you want to make use of it. Just like other apps on your home screen, these two shortcuts are equally there. Just tap on either one to either clean the clipboard or show its content.

To create the shortcuts, click on the Add "Clean" Shortcut and Add "Show Content" Shortcut buttons respectively as shown below. Having clicked according to instruction, you have succeeded in creating shortcuts for these two tasks in the home screen of your device.

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Now, below is the just created shortcuts in the home screen of this device.

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So here, instead of opening the parent app, you can just tap on either of the shortcuts to perform the same action you would have carried out using the app.

Conclusion

Clipboard is one part of mobile devices that's highly security porous, and to which criminal elements are beginning to deploy attacks in the recent time. Unfortunately, most people don't know about the risk of copying data to clipboard. Every now and then, people copy credit card numbers, passwords, emails, etc to clipboard, and would leave such information on the clipboard even after using it. This is a serious security flaw that criminals can capitalise on to commit internet frauds of no small proportion.

ClipboardCleaner app is a solution approach that can be used to monitor and clean clipboard where it's important to do so. This is why I have taken my time to review this app in a way that no one would have difficulty understanding the app. If used properly, this app can actually protect your passwords and other sensitive information against criminal elements. So, use it very carefully, and you won't have any reason to cry.

Thanks for reading.

Links

Available for download on Playstore and Github.

All images images used in this post were taken with my android phone, otherwise are properly sourced.

My Github Profile

https://github.com/sciece-tech

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