Public WiFi is great if you’re in a foreign country and have no access to the internet, or if you’re out and don’t want to tether your phone to your laptop. Unfortunately public WiFi does carry certain risks, such as being hacked or having your data intercepted, or in the case of Stensul CEO Noah Dinkin, having your laptop hijacked and used to mine cryptocurrency.
In a tweet by Dinkin earlier this month (via Motherboard), it seems that he discovered that when connecting to a local Starbucks’ WiFi, there was a 10 second delay in which apparently his laptop was being hijacked to mine cryptocurrency. Dinkin wrote “bitcoin” in his tweet, but as Motherboard points out, the code for the miner which was provided by CoinHive only works with Monero.
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
Starbucks has since responded to Dinkin’s tweet and wrote, “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.”
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 company has also confirmed to Motherboard that this issue was isolated to the Beunos Aires location, and that the issue was with the service provider and not Starbucks itself. Starbucks spokesperson Reggie Borges said, “Last week, we were alerted to the issue and we reached out to our internet service provider—the Wi-Fi is not run by Starbucks, it’s not something we own or control. We want to ensure that our customers are able to search the internet over Wi-Fi securely, so we will always work closely with our service provider when something like this comes up.”