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Clipboard Data Theft Now Optional With IE7 162

An anonymous reader writes "It's been known for a long time that Internet Explorer will happily allow any Web site to steal data that users have recently cut-and-pasted or copied into the Windows 'clipboard' data storage area. Well, now it looks like Microsoft has finally decided that this 'feature' was probably ill-advised, according to The Washington Post's Security Fix blog. IE7 throws up a warning asking whether users really want to let a site filch their clipboard data (Firefox, Opera and most other non-IE browsers forbid this behavior by default)."
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Clipboard Data Theft Now Optional With IE7

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  • not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pchan- ( 118053 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:10PM (#17328790) Journal
    Firefox, Opera and most other non-IE browsers forbid this behavior by default

    No, they don't forbid. They DON'T IMPLEMENT such a stupid idea. Microsoft had to go out of their way to ADD this "feature".
  • Probably? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ifrag ( 984323 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:12PM (#17328818)
    How is something like this only "probably ill-advised".
    This is beyond complete stupidity. I probably can't even count the number of times I've had security sensitive stuff in the clipboard.
  • Can't Believe It (Score:3, Insightful)

    by endianx ( 1006895 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:15PM (#17328866)
    I had no idea that was possible. I would never have imagined they would do something so stupid, even Microsoft. What other "features" do they have that I don't know about? I fear to think.
  • Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:29PM (#17329080) Journal
    I mean why is it even "optional"? I cannot even think of a reason why ANY website would need access to my clipboard stuff, under any circumstances!

    [new phishing scam]
    Open text document, type in password, copy the password to clipboard, click this link, and we'll verify that your password matches the one in our file. Honest!
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:30PM (#17329094) Homepage Journal
    Microsoft designed IE with features, not features specifically for secure browsing

    Microsoft (and other software companies, but MS gets the most attention for it) spent years working under the paradigm where making things more convenient and/or more powerful for the user was the most important thing you could do to get people to use and buy your product. (Not saying they succeeded at making things convenient, just that it was the goal.) Security was only rarely a concern, because for the most part an attacker (barring the occasional virus-infected floppy) needed physical access to a personal computer to mess with it.

    Two things changed: personal computers are now vastly interconnected. Lots more people have them. Result? Bad guys can attack random machines on the other side of the planet using automated tools. Security is now a major priority.

    Bolting security onto insecure-by-design products has had spotty success. In the last couple of years Microsoft has also tried to make more security-conscious designs...and they've paid for it in complaints when customers lose the convenience of, for example, always running with admin rights.

  • by Target Drone ( 546651 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:30PM (#17329100)
    If I read the articles correctly it seems there are 2 ways to access the clipboard data.
    1. Via the javascript windows.clipboard object.
    2. You embed an active-x spreadsheet in your page (which gets installed with office) then java script can call a method to paste the contents of the clipboard into a cell in the spreadsheet.
    Anyone know if both methods are now fixed? The Washington Post article doesn't seem to say.
  • by EXTomar ( 78739 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:38PM (#17329242)
    Once again Microsoft instead of recognizing a bug decides unplanned behavior is trying to treat it like a feature. Most other designers would call this a bug but but there is something else beyond the definition. What possibly earthly reason would there be for a server to request the content of client's clipboard?? I'm having an extremely hard time imagining a use case for such an event even with Ajax web applications.

    So instead of fixing the bug, they treat it like a feature and ask for confirmation. This behavior by default should never be allowed in any context let alone a web/internet one. Asking for user confirmation on an action not allowed is silly and yet another scary dialog where the user won't bother reading or understanding the warning and just click "Yes" to dismiss and continue on their browsing.

    I hate sounding negative when talking about Microsoft's technology but it is stances like this that make it so hard to avoid.
  • Re:not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AchiIIe ( 974900 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:45PM (#17329330)
    Not so fast. Have you tried using google spreadsheets? Try -- then try selecing something, right click and select "Copy", or "Paste"
    - Whoah, you can't copy paste unless you manually do CTRL-V, or CTRL-X/C

    I gave up on using word/openoffice I simply use writely for all my documents. I've had documents being edited with up to 50 people just fine.
    Think twice before blindly bashing microsoft. There are some of us that want that "feature"
  • by Zarjay ( 891644 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:49PM (#17329380) Homepage

    Why didn't Microsoft just fix the problem instead of adding a user confirmation prompt? Why is it important for IE to allow websites to get clipboard data from users?

    That's a screwy way of fixing a security defect, if you ask me.

  • Re:Probably? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AchiIIe ( 974900 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:50PM (#17329414)
    Google spreadsheets? - try doing a copy paste between excel and GS. Google documents? - Would you not want to Select - right click - copy? Well, you might want to, but they overwrite the right click to include their own menu -- and guess what, now you can't
  • by KingSkippus ( 799657 ) * on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:52PM (#17329452) Homepage Journal

    My god, I don't know how I've missed this one. It's the most scary thing I've seen in a long time. I like to think I'm pretty savvy, and I stay up with all of the latest scoop, but this is the first I've read about this gaping security hole.

    For the past half hour, I've been showing people I work with this exploit (I'm sorry, I refuse to call it a "feature"), and everyone's been forwarding e-mails to their home account with two pieces of information: 1) The ScriptingMagic site URL to play with at home and show other people, and 2) the Firefox [] URL to install as soon as they get off today.

    Thank god I've been using Firefox for a couple of years or so now. This is unbelievable. The thought that an IE window in my background could have been sitting there all along, quietly capturing and reporting everything I put in my clipboard, is just unbelievable.

  • by jimlintott ( 317783 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @04:59PM (#17329564) Homepage
    While I pretty much agree with what you are saying I should point out that this is a web browser we are talking about. Ignorance of connected computers can't apply to a product that requires a connected machine to be useful.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by enharmonix ( 988983 ) <> on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:03PM (#17329640)

    I mean why is it even "optional"? I cannot even think of a reason why ANY website would need access to my clipboard stuff, under any circumstances! []
  • Re:not quite (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Tim C ( 15259 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:10PM (#17329724)
    They DON'T IMPLEMENT such a stupid idea.

    Well, Firefox does [], although it's off by default and requires a site to be whitelisted. Globally allowing silent access to the clipboard is shockingly bad, though, even if in the vast majority of cases the contents will be perfectly benign; it speaks volumes about the general attitude towards security.
  • by Abcd1234 ( 188840 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:11PM (#17329734) Homepage
    Once again Microsoft instead of recognizing a bug decides unplanned behavior is trying to treat it like a feature.

    Actually, what's sad is that this *really was a feature*! A bug implies unintended behaviour. But clearly, they *meant* it to work this way.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:31PM (#17330050)
    I think the reason they finally did this was to make it harder to use Google docs and spreadsheets--very annoying to get a prompt every time you copy/paste a cell in the sheet.
  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @05:59PM (#17330508)
    A modern Windows PC in skilled/sensible hands is safe enough, but so many are in less than optimal hands...

    I don't disagree with you at all, but I'm compelled to add this:

    The thing is, computers are ubiquitous -- and omnipresent -- these days, and the bulk of them are running MS Windows of some version. They're as common as stereos, but as touchy as a Stradivarius (or a crappy Strad copy). It's not really a valid assumption that all computer users are experts at using computers. They buy them to shop, do embroidery, type phone lists into spreadsheets, watch porn, keep in touch with relatives, etc. They don't want to be computer experts in order to do these things any more than I want to learn to play bass or drums or violin just to listen to some music.

    So if Microsoft wants ordinary people to be able to continue using Windows PCs in a networked world, security has got to be easier. If the only secure computer is one that is managed by an IT Pro, then the potential market for personal computers (and PC operating systems) is only businesses. And that would be bad news for MS.

  • Security settings (Score:2, Insightful)

    by islanduniverse ( 925110 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:03PM (#17330586)
    I don't know if this has been commented on already, but there is an option in the IE settings that controls this setting. Does no-one on /. ever go through application settings first? Under scripting: "Allow programmatic clipboard access" I think it is.

    Unless this is something completely different... (Oh, and please fill in my survey for my dissertation! [] :) It's about online shopping and only takes less than 10 minutes! Thanks)
  • by dgatwood ( 11270 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:16PM (#17330740) Homepage Journal

    Yes, and that worm and others like it are the primary reason that sendmail only makes up about half of all the mail servers out there (50-60%, depending on whose numbers you believe). You can't call that a security hole in UNIX any more than you can call an IIS security hole a flaw in Windows XP Pro.

  • Ironic. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by lukateake ( 619282 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:20PM (#17330802)
    Since the offending script stealing my clipboard will only be grabbing itself since I just came to the site to see how they implement clipboard access in JavaScript.
  • by Kelson ( 129150 ) * on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:24PM (#17330858) Homepage Journal
    It takes time for people -- and companies -- to adjust. I used the term paradigm deliberately. Even though Microsoft should have considered security more carefully when writing a network client, they were still operating under the paradigm established under the older, less-connected reality.

    IE has been around for a decade. It took until people started massively taking advantage of the security flaws in Windows, IE, Outlook (Express) -- the outbreak of worms and viruses a few years ago -- for Microsoft to adjust to the fact that security was not just something to consider, but might possibly trump the old priorities.
  • by freeweed ( 309734 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:28PM (#17330908)
    Does no-one on /. ever go through application settings first?


    Do we even know about, let alone go through all 5,000 braindead security settings that Windows seems to have these days? Hell no. After a while, you have to assume a vendor would do SOMETHING right. This one floored me completely. I thought a dozen open network ports on a home desktop OS was stupid, but this is beyond belief.

    Things like this are why I moved to Linux. It's simply impossible to keep up with every idiotic setting that needs to be changed after a default Windows install.
  • Re:not quite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by the_greywolf ( 311406 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @06:50PM (#17331148) Homepage
    Do people actually USE Javascript in Opera?!

    Yes. I do a significant amount of my testing in Opera 9 and Firefox, and am in fact developing a full-featured RTE based on designMode that currently works in IE, Firefox, Opera 9, and Safari 2.

    It's not a bad browser for rendering CSS layouts, but its JS engine sucks and has always sucked. Basic AJAX ... simply fails with it to the point all the sites I work on actively sniff for Opera and remove Javascript beyond basic rollovers and form validation. This isn't a troll, as I still test CSS layouts with Opera to ensure templates look correct, but I doubt anyone uses it for its scripting capabilities!

    It reads like a troll, since you clearly haven't done much testing with Opera 9. Their DOM implementation is complete through most of level 2, and is in line with Firefox 2. Their new designMode stuff is very complete, with behavior similar to Firefox's Midas. The XMLHTTPRequest stuff that everyone relies on so much now has been well-supported for a very long time.

    The reason Opera doesn't work on so many "AJAXy" applications is, simply, because of the fact that developers with your mentality either do sniffing of the navigator object (which is Wrong, a Bad Thing, bad practise, and just plain idiotic) or are just too shortsighted to see that Opera is improving with every new release (version 8.0 notwithstanding).

    I do the bulk of my Javascript testing now in Firefox, but use Opera 9 as a test environment to verify results. I test in IE only to see what other kinds of idiotic things its half-assed "DOM" implementation does wrong.

  • by zeugma-amp ( 139862 ) on Thursday December 21, 2006 @10:13PM (#17332914) Homepage

    Plus they also tried to turn IE into a platform for intranet applications that *require* more access to the machine than they should have from within a browser.

    You're not kidding. The place where I work has many intranet applications that require IE use, and also require that you eliminate just about every security mechanism that IE has in order for them to work. Siebel is the biggest offender. You practically have to mount a "please hack me" sign on your workstation after you set up IE to make Siebel work.

  • kids today (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Clover_Kicker ( 20761 ) <> on Friday December 22, 2006 @12:12AM (#17333606)

    If people considered UNIX to be notoriously insecure in 1991, what did they consider to be secure? Surely not MS-DOS. What else was there to compare it to?

    The various IBM mainframe OS choices?


    There were a zillion wierd mini architectures/OS combos you could buy in 1991.
  • by Baricom ( 763970 ) on Friday December 22, 2006 @04:39AM (#17334868)
    (Note: These are serious questions.)

    Why would one write a web application that works only in Internet Explorer? Doesn't that defeat the primary benefit of a web app - increased flexibility? Wouldn't it be more sane to use something like VB that will be more consistent at the expense of less portability?

Someday your prints will come. -- Kodak