Starbucks recently experienced an incident in one of its Buenos Aires stores where malicious attacks were found to be conducted using its compromised Wi-Fi. The attack hi-jacked customers of the coffee chain and covertly used their laptops to mine cryptocurrency. The event was discovered by Noah Dinkin, the Stensul CEO after he visited the store in question.
Dinkin brought the hack to Starbucks’ attention via Twitter:
Hi @Starbucks @StarbucksAr did you know that your in-store wifi provider in Buenos Aires forces a 10 second delay when you first connect to the wifi so it can mine bitcoin using a customer's laptop? Feels a little off-brand.. cc @GMFlickinger pic.twitter.com/VkVVdSfUtT
— Noah Dinkin (@imnoah) December 2, 2017
Covert cryptocurrency mining has become a rapidly growing trend amongst the more tech-savvy crypto enthusiasts, especially in the last year when cryptocurrency enjoyed an unprecedented price growth. Hackers and websites alike have been trying to scrape together the lesser lucrative, Monero, by covertly using the crypto mining script issued by CoinHive. The script allows the attacker to inject a user’s device with code that would use its processing powers to mine cryptocurrency. However, this is usually done without the device owner’s consent and can severely affect the device’s overall performance.
Starbucks responded to the incident, also via Twitter:
As soon as we were alerted of the situation in this specific store last week, we took swift action to ensure our internet provider resolved the issue and made the changes needed in order to ensure our customers could use Wi-Fi in our store safely.
— Starbucks Coffee (@Starbucks) December 11, 2017
According to Reggie Borges, spokesperson for Starbucks, the event was an isolated occurrence, and that the fault lied with the store’s internet service provider, and not the franchise itself.
Borges stated that the company immediately alerted their internet service provider once Dinkin reported the issue. Borges emphasized that every store’s Wi-Fi is operated by their internet service provider and not Starbucks itself. However, the problem has been rectified, and Borges noted that Starbucks is committed to providing its users with a safe environment. Borges also stated that it was an isolated event and that Starbucks has no evidence to believe that any other store has been affected.