Starbucks customer laptops hacked to mine cryptocurrency
Twitter user points out that a store in Buenos Aires had corrupted Wi-Fi and reports claim illegal script was using customer laptops to mine Monero coins
By David Reid
Coffee chain Starbucks says it has taken action to stop customer laptops being used to generate the cryptocurrency Monero.
On December 2, a Twitter user called Noah Dinkin posted a screenshot that showed that the public Wi-Fi available in a Starbucks store in Buenos Aires, Argentina, had been hacked and edited with unusual code.
Dinking claimed the code forced a delay when he first connected to the internet there, allowing the Wi-Fi provider to mine bitcoin using his computer’s processing power.
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
Since the tweet, both Hackread.com and Blockexplorer.com have reported that the script was in fact Coinhive code, which was used to generate Monero coins.
According to Hackread.com, the culprit is likely not to be the Wi-Fi provider, but cybercriminals who have recently been identified as inserting the script into more than 5,000 websites.
In a response late Monday, Starbucks said the internet connection at the Buenos Aires store had now been made safe.
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
The coffee chain did not explain why the Wi-Fi script was able to have been changed in the first place.