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UK's GCHQ Spy Agency Launches Open Source Data Analysis Tool

The U.K. Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) on Monday announced the launch of a new open source web tool designed for analyzing and decoding data.

Named CyberChef, the tool is advertised by the intelligence agency as a “Cyber Swiss Army Knife.” It uses a simple interface with a drag-and-drop feature to allow both technical and non-technical people to analyze encryption, compression and decompression, and data formats.

The organization expects it to be useful not only to professionals in the cybersecurity industry, but to anyone involved in data analysis, including mathematicians, analysts, software developers and even casual puzzle solvers.

Users can, for example, convert data from a hexdump, display timestamps as a full date, decode Base64 strings, parse Teredo IPv6 addresses, and manipulate different types of data.

For the time being, CyberChef runs in Chrome and Firefox, but GCHQ hopes contributors will make the app compatible with Microsoft Edge as well. There is no intention of making it compatible with Internet Explorer.CyberChef tool launched by GCHQ

The source code and a demo have been made available on GitHub. The agency pointed out that the tool is not complete and has encouraged developers to contribute as much as possible.

“It is hoped that by releasing CyberChef through Github, contributions can be added which can be rolled out into future versions of the tool, and is an excellent example of GCHQ providing a platform on which to base cybersecurity operations,” GCHQ said.

CyberChef is the latest of several cyber security initiatives announced recently by the British spy agency, including the launch of a new National Cyber Security Center (NCSC), and the certification of Master's and Bachelor’s degrees in cyber security.

Several other interesting open source security tools have been released in the past period, including by Pwnie Express, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Netflix and Twitter.

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Eduard Kovacs is a contributing editor at SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.