EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS


Windows Back Doors Spin Out of Control, End up in Black Market

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Everyone is a forensic expert now


Summary: Free access for everybody; Microsoft’s back-door keys are now available for everyone to download and new issues about Windows security raise serious questions about liability

Credit goes to Bruce Schneier, who warned about this when it was first introduced publicly. He predicted exactly what would happen with Microsoft's back doors (also learn about CIPAV), which it foolishly believed it could keep under exclusive police control. According to this from Gizmodo:

Apparently Microsoft’s COFEE software that helps law enforcement grab data from password protected or encrypted sources is leaking all over the internet. So not only can you steal the software, but break the law by using it too.

More here:

Siren.gif: Microsoft COFEE law enforcement tool leaks all over the Internet~!


It was one of the most sought after applications on the Internet until it was leaked earlier today. And now that it’s out there—and it is all over the place, easily findable by anyone able to use a search engine—we can all move on with our lives. Yes, Microsoft COFEE, the law enforcement tool that mystified so many of us (including Gizmodo~! and Ars Technica~!), is now available to download. If only there were a “bay” of some sort where, I don’t know, pirates hang out…

Law does not directly interfere with behaviour, so mere threats against COFEE downloaders will not undo the damage which is coming.

The amusing thing is that Robert Scoble mocked me for writing about this back in 2006 when it was secret. Being a Microsoft evangelist (lead AstroTurfer), it was probably his duty to deny the existence of such back doors, which are now available for access by anyone who is interested and determined enough to find the trap door binaries.

The police is said to be carrying the software on USB drives, so how inevitable was such a leak really? It’s a stupid idea to begin with, just like AutoRun, which was removed by Microsoft for doing more harm than good (infection upon insertion). That was Microsoft’s admission of failure with its security approach and the Washington Post has a whole new article about it:

What Windows Autorun Has Wrought


A new report by Microsoft shows that the two most prevalent threats to Windows PCs in the first half of 2009 were malicious programs that have been aided mightily in their spread by a decision by Microsoft to allow the contents of removable media — such as USB thumb drives — to load automatically when inserted into Windows machines.

In its latest “Security Intelligence Report,” Microsoft counted the number of threats detected by its anti-malware desktop products, and found that the Conficker worm, along with a Trojan horse program called Taterf which steals passwords and license keys for popular computer games, were detected on 5.21 million and 4.91 million Windows computers, respectively.

NASA’s operations in space were affected by this (computer viruses passing via USB drives in Windows, maybe with AutoRun doing its magic). It’s even too much for the FBI. Free Software Magazine now asks: “Are Microsoft to blame for ‘hidden’ malware costs and will Windows 7 make any difference?”

A couple of stories have hit the headlines this year concerning the huge cost that some UK Local Governments incurred when dealing with malware attack on their Windows machines. If you missed them, Manchester City Council had a single USB infected with the infamous Conficker worm and it cost them — brace yourself — £1.5m ($2.4m) of which £1.2m (US$1.9m) was spent on IT, of which a staggering £600,000 (US$980k) went on consultancy fees including money to Microsoft. A while later, Ealing Borough Council were hit with a cost of £500000 (about US$ 800k) when they were also hit by a single USB stick containing conficker. Some in the industry tweeted and blogged this as being a “hidden cost of using Microsoft Windows”. In the ensuing discussion, many pointed out that the high cost was really due to the lack of a proper patching and disaster recovery policy at the council. So which is right? Is dealing with malware a hidden cost of using Windows or of a poor IT strategy?


Regardless of your software choice, a poor patching policy is a very bad idea if you value system integrity. But if you going to argue your case on TCO, Microsoft, don’t then try to dodge talk of the additional costs for maintaining, patching and clearing a Windows-based system.

To answer the main question, Vista 7 will make no difference. It is just as insecure as predecessors (one might say it is even less secure). Evidence includes:

  1. Cybercrime Rises and Vista 7 is Already Open to Hijackers
  2. Vista 7: Broken Apart Before Arrival
  3. Department of Homeland Security ‘Poisoned’ by Microsoft; Vista 7 is Open to Hijackers Again
  4. Vista 7 Security “Cannot be Fixed. It’s a Design Problem.”
  5. Why Vista 7 Could be the Least Secure Operating System Ever
  6. Journalists Suggest Banning Windows, Maybe Suing Microsoft Over DDoS Attacks
  7. Vista 7 Vulnerable to Latest “Critical” Flaws
  8. Vista 7 Seemingly Affected by Several More “Critical” Flaws This Month
  9. Reason #1 to Avoid Vista 7: Insecurity
  10. Vista 7 Left Hijackable Again (Almost a Monthly Recurrence)

To address the question of liability, here we have a collection of external references. Some journalists say that Microsoft should be held accountable for these damages.

Share this post: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Reddit
  • co.mments
  • DZone
  • email
  • Google Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • NewsVine
  • Print
  • Technorati
  • TwitThis
  • Facebook

If you liked this post, consider subscribing to the RSS feed or join us now at the IRC channels.

Pages that cross-reference this one


  1. Yuhong Bao said,

    November 9, 2009 at 12:24 am


    Well, does COFEE really use any Windows backdoors? Has anyone disassembled or even used the software to see if it does.

    your_friend Reply:

    We shall see, but there’s no denying that Windows is backdoored. Schneier said, “it’s certainly not a back door, as TechDirt claims.” To his discredit, he offered no explanation of how encrypted data can be so easily cracked without the underlying encryption being intentionally weak or compromised, aka “backdoored.” It would also have been rash of him to dismiss the possibility of COFEE installing even more malicious software on the victim’s computer but it is not clear he meant that. Those interested will learn exactly what’s on the device, if the leaked version is not itself a trojan or missdirection. Schneier predicted something would get out because no one can share a secret it with hundreds of minimally trained staff and expect it to remain a secret. Eventually, he will be right.

    Jose_X Reply:

    Yes, Microsoft software’s weak security and Microsoft’s delays in fixing security problems or not addressing the underlying causes is effectively their support of backdoors while attempting to maintain Plausible Deniability http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plausible_deniability .

    From the user’s pov there are many backdoors inside Microsoft software and many third parties exploiting these every day (Windows malware). Which of these backdoors are intentional to exploit the user or intentional to facilitate “justified remote overrides” and which are bugs is not that important if the goal is for the owner of the box and the data to avoid compromises and violations of privacy, period.

    OTOH, I think Microsoft _might_ lay claim over ownership to a lot of software and data created by their software. In this case, the accurate question would be, why use “their software to create their data” instead of using open source software (“your” software) to create your data?

    Since all software essentially has bugs, the choice between Microsoft software and open source software becomes one of degree. How easily can you be compromised when you use each system. And whom do you trust: a particular for-profit company with a dirty past or the public and yourself (who have access to open source)? I trust the public to take care of itself more than I trust Microsoft to take care of all of us.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    There have been cases where Microsoft (and more infamously Yahoo!) collaborated with governments to suppress free speech.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “Yes, Microsoft software’s weak security and Microsoft’s delays in fixing security problems or not addressing the underlying causes is effectively their support of backdoors”
    I don’t think so, but yes there is indeed an industry where 0-day security bugs are sold as “happy packs” instead of reported to the vendor:
    It is not MS’s fault, though, and it is not even limited to MS code security bugs either.
    “Since all software essentially has bugs, the choice between Microsoft software and open source software becomes one of degree. How easily can you be compromised when you use each system. And whom do you trust: a particular for-profit company with a dirty past or the public and yourself (who have access to open source)? I trust the public to take care of itself more than I trust Microsoft to take care of all of us.”
    AFRIK, open source projects do vary in how they handle security bugs, the worst is this case:
    But, yes, open source do make it better.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Well, live data capture would make a BitLocker backdoor unnecessary, and that is indeed how MS claims COFFE works:
    From http://government.zdnet.com/?p=3781:
    “While COFEE doesn’t break BitLocker or open a back door, it captures live data on the computer, which is why it’s important for agents not to shut down the computer first, Fung said. A law enforcement agent connects the USB drive to a computer at the scene of a crime and it takes a snapshot of important information on the computer. It can save information such as what user was logged on and for how long and what files were running at that time, Fung said. It can be used on a computer using any type of encryption software, not just BitLocker. Previously, an officer might spend three or four hours digging up the information manually, but COFEE lets them do it in about 20 minutes, he said.”

  2. uberVU - social comments said,

    November 9, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gumblar: Blog: Windows Back Doors Spin Out of Control, End up in Black Market … http://bit.ly/3BEV9q

What Else is New

  1. More Back Doors Found in Microsoft's Entrapments (Proprietary Software)

    Security flaws and even blatantly obvious loopholes for surveillance are identified in several of Microsoft's so-called 'products', which turn users (and their data) into the real product (to be sold to private companies or shared with spies)

  2. NASA Gives Back What It Took Away in the Form of Patent Monopolies for Private Gain

    Criticism of NASA's habit of clinging onto patents when it is actually the public which pays for everything

  3. The Coup D'état of Benoît Battistelli Follows an Imperialist Model, Threatens Opposition and Dissent

    SUEPO, the staff union, and boards that are independent from the EPO are both under attack and are constantly threatened by Benoît Battistelli and his goons

  4. Links 8/10/2015: Manjaro Linux Releases, Linksys WRT1900ACS, FOSS at NHS

    Links for the day

  5. Links 8/10/2015: KDE Plasma 5.4.2 Released, Linux Drama Queens

    Links for the day

  6. EPO Staff to Disrupt Administrative Council Meeting With Public Demonstration That Raises Awareness of Abuses

    The perception of collusion between the Administrative Council (AC) and the European Patent Office (EPO) leads to staff actions demanding investigation of illegal Board of Appeal (BoA) suspension/s (among many other things)

  7. OIN Turns 10, IDG Floods the Web With Puff Pieces That 'Normalise' Software Patents

    The Open Invention Network (OIN) commissions or helps produce puff pieces in the corporate media because it has an anniversary and corporate interests to push forth (including the idea that software patents can coexist with Linux)

  8. Hypocrite Forks the Linux Kernel Because of Cultural Characteristics That He Himself is Guilty of

    Forking of Linux is misleadingly reported in the media because of a couple of very loud people, who are not even quitting their jobs

  9. Željko Topić Attacks EPO Staff for 'Daring' to Legally Challenge the EPO's Management Over Its Gross Abuses in Europe

    Benoît Battistelli's right-hand man, Željko Topić, is under the false impression that yet more threats against staff of the EPO will help contain the crisis rather than further inflame it

  10. Media Reports Based on New Patents Suggest That Microsoft Continues to Attack Google and Android/Linux, Trying to Tax and Delete Android

    Reports and patent applications serve to show that Microsoft not only tries to infiltrate ("embrace") Android to put its apps there ("extend") but ultimately to delete ("extinguish") Android

  11. Commenters Provide Possible Explanations for Mr Van der Eijk Being on Unlimited Sick Leave

    Rumours are swirling around Wim Van der Eijk's absence, suggesting that he too may be a victim of Benoît Battistelli's iron fist

  12. Links 6/10/2015: Linux 4.3 RC4, HP OpenSwitch, Wind River Linux 8

    Links for the day

  13. With Software Patents in Europe (and Pushes for the Same Thing in Australia and India) Patent Trolls Now Come to Europe, Attack Android/Linux

    Worst-case scenarios are becoming a reality as Android backers officially attacked by patent trolls using standard-essential patents in London, England

  14. New Information on Limbo in the Enlarged Board, Courtesy of Illegal Actions by the EPO's Benoît Battistelli

    Battistelli's bullying of people whom he is not even allowed to bully turns out to have gone on for a lot longer than promised, and there is no sign of light at the end of this tunnel

  15. Microsoft Customers Complain About 'Inevitable' Vista 10 Because Microsoft Nearly Forces Botched 'Upgrades'

    In a desperate effort to spread Vista 10, sometimes even against people's will, Microsoft really upsets loyal customers, who are eventually eager to explore alternatives

  16. Dr. Ingve Björn Stjerna Explains Why the UPC (“Unitary Patent“ System) is an Undemocratic Sham Whilst UPC Silently Advanced by Patent Lawyers and Politicians

    European patent laws are being covertly overridden so as to allow broader scope of litigation, higher financial damages, speedy injunctions, and even software patents; the European public is intentionally kept in the dark about it, hence kept unable to express scepticism or issue truly effective objections

  17. IRC Proceedings: September 13th, 2015 – October 3rd, 2015

    Many IRC logs

  18. Article Explains Why SUEPO Went Silent Well Over a Week Ago: Nobody is Allowed to Talk to Journalists Without Permission From Battistelli

    More threats from Benoît Battistelli (threats of termination and legal actions on top of it) help hide the abuses of Battistelli and his fellow thugs at the EPO

  19. A Linux World: After Billions of Dollars in Losses Microsoft Changes How It Reports Financial Results

    The abusive monopolist is trying very hard to hide its growing difficulties, especially in an effort to bamboozle non-technical shareholders who cannot understand how Linux has essentially taken over

  20. Microsoft Continues to Extort Linux and Android OEMs Using Software Patents, This Time ASUS (Forced to Pre-Install Microsoft Spyware With OOXML)

    A roundup of news illustrating that Microsoft is still very much in a total war against Android, (mis)using federal regulators and even software patents to get its way

  21. Links 4/10/2015: Linux 4.2.3 , 4.1.10; MPlayer 1.2 released

    Links for the day

  22. Links 2/10/2015: Qubes 3.0, Linux.Wifatch

    Links for the day

  23. Microsoft-Connected Firm Net Applications Used to Mislead About Vista 10 Share and Mock GNU/Linux

    People who are connected to Microsoft (some being former staff) link to a firm that is connected to Microsoft in order to create the illusion that Vista 10 market share grew to 6.63%

  24. Chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) and EPO Vice-President of DG3 Suspiciously on Unlimited Sick Leave After Benoît Battistelli's Unprecedented Attacks on Other EBoA Staff

    Rumours suggest that Benoît Battistelli's affairs at the EPO may have something to do with Wim Van der Eijk's longterm absence

  25. Microsoft's Secret Special Relationship With EPO Illustrates Serious Corruption at Microsoft and the EPO

    A big story about the EPO and Microsoft working in a sort of collusion-type setup so as to serve Microsoft's patent agenda, which involves aggression, even against European software that is Free (as in freedom)

  26. Links 1/10/2015: LFS 7.8, Calculate Linux 15 Released

    Links for the day

  27. The 'Microsoft Loves Linux' Baloney is Still Being Floated in the Media While Microsoft Attacks Linux With Patents, New Lawsuits Reported

    Despite Microsoft's continued assault on Linux and on Android (using software patents, which it still discreetly lobbies for), some figures in the media are perpetually peddling the Microsoft-serving lie that 'Microsoft loves Linux'

  28. The Microsoft Botnet Goes Bonkers and ATMs Running Windows Spew Out Cash

    The terrible security (by design) of Microsoft Windows is causing all sorts of very serious and collectively expensive issues

  29. Black Duck Continues to Pile FUD on Free/Libre Software

    Having spent nearly a decade promoting the fear of Free software licensing, Black Duck now does the same regarding Free software security

  30. Links 30/9/2015: New Kernels, Nexus Devices

    Links for the day


RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channel: Come and chat with us in real time


Recent Posts