Microsoft has confirmed that its tool designed for law enforcement agencies has been posted on the web but it does not expect cyber-criminals to be able to use the software to their advantage.
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The software, known as Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (Cofee), is available on the web, but it is illegal for unauthorised people to download it or use it.
The software helps law enforcement agencies access details about crimes before criminals can wipe the information.
But Microsoft said Cofee is just a collection of digital forensic tools which are actually already available. "Its value for law enforcement is not in secret functionality unknown to cybercriminals. Its value is in the way Cofee brings those tools together in a simple and customisable format for law enforcement use in the field," said Richard Boscovich, senior attorney in Microsoft's internet safety enforcement team.