Apr 30 2008
This was looking like it could have been a great story for the conspiracy theorists in all of us: Microsoft is helping law enforcement agencies by giving them USB keys with forensics tools to help with cybercrime investigations. It can ‘decrypt passwords and analyze a computer’s internet activity’, something every good law enforcement agent needs. The Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (Cofee) offers up 150 commands (what do they mean by ‘command’? Is that 150 tools or one tool with 150 commands?) and makes it easier for beleaguered cops to perform an investigation.
A number of people, most notably Mike Masnick, have jumped to the conclusion that this offers some sort of back door to law enforcement. Ed Bott fires back calling this inflammatory and rants a bit against the echo chamber that is the blogosphere. I can see why Mike would jump to the conclusion he did, that Microsoft was offering up some special sauce for criminal investigators, but as Ed points out, the tools included on the USB drive are all available elsewhere, MS has just made easier by putting them on one USB key.
Ed also points out another thing: the bad guys have had USB keys that do most, if not all, of the same things for years. The USB Switchblade works wonders, is freely available and probably is more dangerous than any of the tools in the Cofee suite. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the more savvy forensics investigators haven’t been carrying USB Switchblades around for a couple of years.
This is twice in a week that I know of computer crime stories got blown out of proportion. Is it a trend or just a blip in the statistics? All I know is it feels weird to not be on the side being called paranoid.