This week at a security conference, Microsoft revealed its development of a security tool kit aimed at helping law enforcement officials. Dubbed The Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor, or COFEE for short, this project amounts to a set of tools on a USB flash drive that allow criminal investigators to extract potential evidence from a computer on the scene of the crime. The commands stored on the USB flash drive are able to decrypt passwords, determine a user's internet activity, and analyze data on the hard drive.
Being able to scan for such activity on site is an important step in the right detection for crime-fighting units. Often data can be lost or compromised when the computer of a suspect in a cybercrime case is confiscated to be brought back to police headquarters. COFEE allows police to scan for such volatile data on site and store it for analysis later.
Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith compared today's internet and the web 2.0 movement especially to the industrial revolution of the 1800s, where new "digital cities" (like the budding cities of the industrial revolution) provide a new level of anonymity previously not known. It's an apt comparison when you think about it. Large web 2.0 communities flourish where users participate anonymously.
Microsoft's COFEE has already been distributed to around 2,000 officers in fifteen countries. The software giant provides the forensic tool kit for free. The company's motives can't be entirely altruistic, however. Getting their technology into a marketplace has always been one of their top priorities. With the sheer amount of online activity the average internet citizen performs, the next wave of potentially devastating crimes could take place in the digital "ether." It's good to know there are companies with deep pockets throwing resources at what will surely be a growing problem in the years to come.
Via Seattle Times