Starbucks’ WiFi hijacked customers’ laptops for mining Monero

Brittany Roston from Slash Gear reported that one of Starbucks stores in Buenos Aires was caught mining digital currencies through the use of customers’ laptops that essentially used the store’s WiFi.

The Starbucks store did not know of the mining, until notified by a customer, Noah Dunkin through a tweet. According to his tweet, the problem was noticeable right after the 10-second delay in the WiFi when a user connected to the network for the very first time. What happened after the delay, was the mining of the digital currency Monero. That resulted in slower laptops of Starbucks’ customers and possible higher electricity bill for the Starbucks store.

The malware came from Starbucks store, but it wasn’t the store’s fault. This is one of the major risks with cryptocurrencies and the widespread use of WiFi in public places where customers often bring laptops. The breach is easy for hackers who use the WiFi and laptops to mine digital currencies. The visible sign may be poor performance and slow speed of the laptop. While some notify the user of an ongoing mining activity, many crypto miners do not.

One similar example was Pirate Bay in September this year. The torrent website used a tool developed by Coinhive, a crypto miner, and tried to free the tracker’s site of advertisements. What happened next was that users noticed an increase in their CPU usage, and when they investigated further, they found out that Pirate Bay used their computers to generate the Monero cryptocurrency, without asking them.

While cryptocurrencies and their market capitalization are booming, it is very disturbing to know that your laptop could be used for mining these while sitting in a coffee shop. Yet again, the crypto market is flourishing, with Bitcoin in the front row, followed by Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, etc.

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