Something we’ve all considered might be possible has just been proven true.
Starbucks WiFi has been using the computer power of anyone that connects to help criminals mine cryptocurrency.
The scam was discovered when one coffee drinker, Noah Dinkin, tried to log in to the Starbucks WiFi and found his connection was delayed by 10 seconds.
Dinkin just happens to be the CEO of a Stensul, a New York technology firm, and posted the results of his test on 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
Starbucks has admitted that the details of the test were correct.
The coffee chain admitted that the branch, in Buenos Airies in Argentina, was secretly hijacking computers to mine the Monero cryptocurrency.
The firm’s official Twitter account replied to Durkin that the problem was with the internet provider and not with their own insecure WiFi.
It tweeted: “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.”
It’s not clear whether the hijack is happening across its stores worldwide but the company told news website Motherboard that it “did not have any concerns that the problem is widespread”.
Durkin responded on Twitter, saying: “Since I have been asked, a few items to clarify: a) this was observed by a friend and I in three separate Starbucks stores in Buenos Aires over multiple days following my original tweet, that week, it wasn’t just one store, c) the TOS [terms of service] said nothing about this”.