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.

Perimeter

11/10/2009
10:33 AM
Robert Graham
Robert Graham
Commentary
50%
50%

Partially Spilled COFEE

It turns out the version of COFEE (Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor) posted to BitTorrent sites is incomplete: It contains only 45 commands, whereas Microsoft claims the tool executes more than 150 commands. It grabs neither browser history nor password hashes. It runs only built-in Windows commands, sysinternals tools, and resource kit tools.

It turns out the version of COFEE (Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor) posted to BitTorrent sites is incomplete: It contains only 45 commands, whereas Microsoft claims the tool executes more than 150 commands. It grabs neither browser history nor password hashes. It runs only built-in Windows commands, sysinternals tools, and resource kit tools.The COFEE tool was published by some people in Microsoft for law enforcement. It runs from a USB flash drive. When plugged into a computer and run, it will copy to the flash drive the sorts of forensics information that law enforcement is looking for. The idea behind the tool is that law enforcement gets search warrants to enter a building and search a computer. They don't want to turn off the computer for two reasons. The first is they want to catch the suspect "in the act" -- for example, having child porn up on the screen (rather than simply on the hard drive). Second, if the suspect is encrypting things, then he will be available unencrypted as long as the machine is on, but become unavailable once it is turned off (unless he gets the password).

There is nothing special or evil about COFEE. Initial news stories reported it was a special "device" with some sort of powerful tools produced by Microsoft. That was just hype. It's really just a USB flash drive. The tools are just the standard set of tools that anybody can download from the Internet. For example, in order to see what computers the suspect is connected to, it simply runs "netstat" from the command line and dumps the output to a file (on the USB drive).

The version on BitTorrent contains only Microsoft tools, so I don't know for certain what other tools it might run. Yet similar forensics toolkits all run the same sorts of programs. They run standard tools for grabbing the browser history (from Firefox and IE). They run versions of "pwdump" to grab the password hashes for offline cracking. They copy the browser cache. They look for recently changed files. They might scour the hard drive and take an MD5 hash of all the files. They look for unique device IDs, such as your MAC address or built-in hard drive ID.

One of the worries is that now that the tool is public, criminals can now defend against it. This is nonsense. Police forensics are already well-known, and criminals already know how to defend against them.

Flush your browser history/cache/cookies, don't save your online passwords, save everything to encrypted disks, enable the "lock" screen-saver, disable "LM" hashes, and choose complex passwords.

Tools like COFEE don't do anything extra that is unknown or secret. What makes them dangerous (to criminals) is that law enforcement agents can run them without much training, in an automated fashion. That means if you are arrested, then chances are high your browser history will show up in court as evidence -- not because the agents were skilled at grabbing that evidence, but because the tools made it easy for them.

Robert Graham is CEO of Errata Security. Special to Dark Reading

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Threaded  |  Newest First  |  Oldest First
Data Leak Week: Billions of Sensitive Files Exposed Online
Kelly Jackson Higgins, Executive Editor at Dark Reading,  12/10/2019
Lessons from the NSA: Know Your Assets
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  12/12/2019
4 Tips to Run Fast in the Face of Digital Transformation
Shane Buckley, President & Chief Operating Officer, Gigamon,  12/9/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
The Year in Security: 2019
This Tech Digest provides a wrap up and overview of the year's top cybersecurity news stories. It was a year of new twists on old threats, with fears of another WannaCry-type worm and of a possible botnet army of Wi-Fi routers. But 2019 also underscored the risk of firmware and trusted security tools harboring dangerous holes that cybercriminals and nation-state hackers could readily abuse. Read more.
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-2019-19797
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-15
read_colordef in read.c in Xfig fig2dev 3.2.7b has an out-of-bounds write.
CVE-2019-5252
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
There is an improper authentication vulnerability in Huawei smartphones (Y9, Honor 8X, Honor 9 Lite, Honor 9i, Y6 Pro). The applock does not perform a sufficient authentication in a rare condition. Successful exploit could allow the attacker to use the application locked by applock in an instant.
CVE-2019-5235
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-14
Some Huawei smart phones have a null pointer dereference vulnerability. An attacker crafts specific packets and sends to the affected product to exploit this vulnerability. Successful exploitation may cause the affected phone to be abnormal.
CVE-2019-5264
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
There is an information disclosure vulnerability in certain Huawei smartphones (Mate 10;Mate 10 Pro;Honor V10;Changxiang 7S;P-smart;Changxiang 8 Plus;Y9 2018;Honor 9 Lite;Honor 9i;Mate 9). The software does not properly handle certain information of applications locked by applock in a rare condition...
CVE-2019-5277
PUBLISHED: 2019-12-13
Huawei CloudUSM-EUA V600R006C10;V600R019C00 have an information leak vulnerability. Due to improper configuration, the attacker may cause information leak by successful exploitation.