Microsoft software that is designed to help the police access encrypted data is loose on the web.
The software, known as Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (Cofee), has been put on file-sharing site, according to reports on the web. It is illegal for unauthorised people to use the software or download it.
The software helps law enforcement agencies access details about crimes before criminals can wipe the information.
"Cofee brings together a number of common digital forensics capabilities into a fast, easy-to-use, automated tool for first responders. And Cofee is being provided [free] to law enforcement around the world," said Microsoft.
Police officers with basic computer skills can be taught to use the software in less than 10 minutes. "This enables the officer to take advantage of the same common digital forensics tools used by experts to gather important volatile evidence, while doing little more than simply inserting a USB device into the computer," said Microsoft.
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos said “The genie is out of the bottle.”
“Microsoft and the computer crime authorities will be mightily upset that this was leaked onto the internet for anyone to download via file-sharing sites.”
“Some will be worried that unauthorised users may now have access to such a tool for their own nefarious purposes, but I would also worry that computer criminals could analyse Cofee, and write code that would identify that it is trying to run on their computer and intercept it, securely wiping incriminating data from their hard drives.”
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