Internet privacy and security course RU

Why you shouldn’t use shared folders, shared clipboard and Drag’n’Drop

Sometimes you need to load files from the primary machine to the virtual one (or vice versa), for instance, if you wish to run a suspicious file or link in an isolated environment.  

If you are an average user, chances are you will go to the Internet and find the information about such simple and easy-to-use tools as shared folders, shared clipboard and Drag’n’Drop, all available in VirtualBox Guest Additions. 

If you have never used these tools, in short, a shared folder is a feature that creates a folder on your computer which is made available to both the guest and the host. The shared clipboard allows you to copy and paste files from the host machine to the virtual machine and vice versa. With Drag’n’Drop you just drag files from one system to the other.  

While in this course you learn about all these tools, I’m not going to actually teach you how to use them. Instead, I will share a safer technique that will allow you to securely exchange files between the guest and the host. I hope, you will act on my recommendation to avoid using these dangerous tools – trust me on this one, I have a profound knowledge of the techniques of escaping from a virtual environment.



Stop using shared folders, shared clipboard and Drag’n’Drop.


According to my stats, 85% of the tools used to escape from a VirtualBox machine required VirtualBox Guest Additions and the features made available by it.


Cloud storages

The first option I can recommend as an alternative to VirtualBox Guest Additions is to use a cloud storage to exchange files between the guest and the host, by providing your virtual machine the access to a folder on Google Drive, Yandex.Disk or Dropbox. Or better, create a separate cloud storage account solely for this purpose.  

In this case, the only thing a malicious intruder will be able to do if he obtains access to your virtual machine is to upload or delete some files in your cloud storage. Of course, there is a chance that the intruder will somehow think of a way to make you run a compromised file from the cloud in your primary machine, but I hope you will be well aware of such blatant oversight.  


Data transmission via instant messaging clients

I use Telegram, it is easy-to-use and safe, and you can send your data with p2p encryption (secret chats). Also, this instant messaging client allows you to send pretty large files. Perhaps you use a different messaging client, there’s really no big difference. 

This is how this method works for me: inside the primary virtual machine I use for creating clones, I have the instant messaging client Telegram installed which doesn’t have any other contacts except for the main one. To send a file or link, I simply send it to the Telegram on my virtual machine and run it there. 

Thus I can send a suspicious link or file from any computer, phone, tablet that is mine and has Telegram installed. But if you use a shared folder or shared clipboard, you can send files only from the computer where you installed VirtualBox. 



To exchange data between the host machine and the guest machine, use a cloud storage or instant messaging client.


Let me give you a clear example of practical application: I get a text message with a link that I need to view, but opening it from my phone would be extremely unwise. So I copy the link and send it to the Telegram of my virtual machine. When I turn on my computer and run the virtual system, I view the link. 

I hope you will adopt a similar technique, you will benefit from it especially if you are an Android user, or you are a person of interest to influential detractors. Using this type of secure measures is an important part of your comprehensive security.  


Interview widget: Are you now convinced that you should use safer ways to exchange files between the host machine and the guest machine?
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