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Secure Desktop


Details on the 'Secure Desktop' option of KeePass 2.x.

Help  General Information

KeePass 2.x has an option (in 'Tools' -> 'Options' -> tab 'Security') to show the master key dialog on a different/secure desktop (supported on Windows ≥ 2000), similar to Windows' User Account Control (UAC).

Benefit. Most currently available keyloggers only work on the user's primary desktop and do not capture keypresses on the secure desktop. So, the secure desktop protects the master key against most keyloggers.

Limitations. Although most keyloggers do not work on KeePass' secure desktop, keyloggers can be developed to also work on it. This could only be prevented if KeePass would be running on a secure desktop with higher rights (e.g. as system process, like Windows' UAC), which however would be completely impractical, because KeePass could not interact (drag&drop, auto-type, integration plugins, ...) with other applications on the user's primary desktop anymore.

Compatibility. The option is turned off by default for compatibility reasons.


Help  Why does a desktop switch occur during entering the master key?

Symptoms. While entering the master key for a KeePass database on the secure desktop, a switch to a different desktop occurs. KeePass then displays a message 'An application has switched from the secure desktop to a different desktop.', and offers to switch back to the secure desktop.

Reason. A different application is causing the switch. For example, users have reported the following applications to cause desktop switches:

  • Acronis Scheduler Helper (e.g. part of Acronis True Image WD Edition).
  • Seagate DiscWizard.

Solution. Unfortunately, KeePass cannot prevent other applications from switching to a different desktop. Thus the only solutions are to either turn off the secure desktop option of KeePass (in 'Tools' -> 'Options' -> tab 'Security') or terminate the interfering application.





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