Starbucks Wi-Fi Hijacked Customers' Laptops to Mine Cryptocoins
Would you like a sprinkle of cryptocurrencing mining with you latte?
Starbucks has acknowledged that visitors to one of its branches were unwittingly recruited into a crypto-currency mining operation.
The wi-fi service provided by one of the coffee chain's Buenos Aires outlets surreptitiously hijacked connected computers to use their processing power to create digital cash. Starbucks said that it had taken "swift action" to address the problem. But one expert said it highlighted therisks of using public wi-fi. It is not clear how long the malware involved was active or how many customers were affected.
The issue was identified only when the chief executive of a New York-based technology company logged into the service and noticed the problem. Although he initially believed the code had been designed to force his laptop to try to create bitcoins, other users noted that it had in fact been designed to mine another digital currency, Monero. Mining involves solving complicated mathematical equations to verify crypto-currency transactions.
Those involved are attracted by the promise of being rewarded with newly minted "coins" if their computer is first to solve a challenge. But because lots of processing power is required to have a good chance of success, some people have tried to infect other people's computers with mining code to boost their chances. Victims' computers are normally targeted via infected websites, but it is relatively unusual for a wi-fi hotspot to be involved.
-Allyson White, CEO Alde Security Solutions, LLC.