Supposedly prompted by the growing use of encryption software by cyber criminals, Microsoft has developed a new tool to help law enforcement bypass any type of security built into the Windows operating system. Dubbed Computer Online Forensic Evidence Extractor (COFEE), the tool is a USB mass-storage device intended for use in police raids to do quick on site scans of suspects' computers for insidious files, conversations and emails.

The device was apparently rolled out to a handful of police forces in June last year and is being used by over 2,000 officers in 15 countries. According to the Seattle Times, it has over 150 commands, including the ability to check surfing history, decrypt some passwords, log hard drive activity and map hard drives - all without shutting down the computer and risk losing evidence. Though I'm all for putting an end to stuff like child pornography and scams on the internet, one can't help but worry that this technology would be a little problematical in the wrong hands.