Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Vulnerabilities / Threats

11/9/2009
05:16 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Microsoft Forensics Tool For Law Enforcement Leaked Online

Security experts worry cybercriminals will figure out ways to circumvent the tool, which was discovered in a file-sharing forum

A forensics tool built by Microsoft exclusively for law enforcement officials worldwide was posted to a file-sharing site, leaving the USB-based tool at risk of falling into the wrong hands.

COFEE is a free, USB-based set of tools, which Microsoft offers only to law enforcement, that plugs into a computer to gather evidence during an investigation. It lets an officer with little or no computer know-how use digital forensics tools to gather volatile evidence.

COFEE was posted, and then later removed, from at least one file-sharing site, but security experts say the cat is now out of the bag. While many forensics tools with similar functionality as Microsoft's Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE) are available, security experts still worry the bad guys will use their access to the tool to figure out ways to circumvent it.

Chris Wysopal, CTO at Veracode, says the danger is that a detection tool will be written for COFEE so that the bad guys can cover their tracks. "Someone will build a detector so that machines will wipe themselves or give rootkit-like fake answers if this USB is inserted into a computer," Wysopal says.

One researcher who got a copy of COFEE online says bad guys could abuse the tool by taking one of its DLLs and loading it into a compromised machine's memory, where it then dumps stored clear-text passwords to a file.

Microsoft says it's investigating reports that some version of COFEE may have been made available online, but that it's not worried about workarounds. "Note that contrary to reports, we do not anticipate the possible availability of COFEE for cybercriminals to download and find ways to 'build around' to be a significant concern," said Richard Boscovich, senior attorney for Microsoft's Internet Safety Enforcement Team, in a statement. "COFEE was designed and provided for use by law enforcement with proper legal authority, but is essentially a collection of digital forensic tools already commonly used around the world. 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 customizable format for law enforcement use in the field."

Boscovich said Microsoft "strongly" recommends not downloading "any technology purporting to be COFEE outside of authorized channels -- both because any unauthorized technology may not be what it claims to be, and because Microsoft has only granted legal usage rights for our COFEE technology for law enforcement purposes."

"We will take action to mitigate any unauthorized distribution of our technology beyond the means for which it's been legally provided," he said.

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant with Sophos, says while there are plenty of tools that perform similar tasks to COFEE, it's not very likely to be abused for nefarious purposes. But, "that can't be ruled out," he says.

Cluley is more concerned about criminals learning the inner workings of COFEE. The real danger is if they can "determine if it is being run on one of their PCs and take precautionary steps to prevent the computer crime community from finding out what they've been up to," he says.

But getting a copy of COFEE won't likely expose its "secret sauce," says Jamie Butler, a director at digital forensics firm Mandiant. Attempting to reverse-engineer it to evade it probably isn't necessary for the bad guys, anyway, because the suite of tools in COFEE collects so much data that they already can get lost in the "noise," Butler says.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Why Cyber-Risk Is a C-Suite Issue
Marc Wilczek, Digital Strategist & CIO Advisor,  11/12/2019
Unreasonable Security Best Practices vs. Good Risk Management
Jack Freund, Director, Risk Science at RiskLens,  11/13/2019
Breaches Are Inevitable, So Embrace the Chaos
Ariel Zeitlin, Chief Technology Officer & Co-Founder, Guardicore,  11/13/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
Navigating the Deluge of Security Data
In this Tech Digest, Dark Reading shares the experiences of some top security practitioners as they navigate volumes of security data. We examine some examples of how enterprises can cull this data to find the clues they need.
Flash Poll
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Rethinking Enterprise Data Defense
Frustrated with recurring intrusions and breaches, cybersecurity professionals are questioning some of the industrys conventional wisdom. Heres a look at what theyre thinking about.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-16761
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
A specially crafted Bitcoin script can cause a discrepancy between the specified SLP consensus rules and the validation result of the [email protected] npm package. An attacker could create a specially crafted Bitcoin script in order to cause a hard-fork from the SLP consensus. All versions >1.0...
CVE-2019-16762
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
A specially crafted Bitcoin script can cause a discrepancy between the specified SLP consensus rules and the validation result of the slpjs npm package. An attacker could create a specially crafted Bitcoin script in order to cause a hard-fork from the SLP consensus. Affected users can upgrade to any...
CVE-2019-13581
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
An issue was discovered in Marvell 88W8688 Wi-Fi firmware before version p52, as used on Tesla Model S/X vehicles manufactured before March 2018, via the Parrot Faurecia Automotive FC6050W module. A heap-based buffer overflow allows remote attackers to cause a denial of service or execute arbitrary ...
CVE-2019-13582
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
An issue was discovered in Marvell 88W8688 Wi-Fi firmware before version p52, as used on Tesla Model S/X vehicles manufactured before March 2018, via the Parrot Faurecia Automotive FC6050W module. A stack overflow could lead to denial of service or arbitrary code execution.
CVE-2019-6659
PUBLISHED: 2019-11-15
On version 14.0.0-14.1.0.1, BIG-IP virtual servers with TLSv1.3 enabled may experience a denial of service due to undisclosed incoming messages.