The trend that started with some websites using your visitors’ computers to mine critics, has evolved from extensions for the browser, to Android apps and botnets, to systems that do not stop mining even when you close your browser, and now we have the hijacking of public WiFi networks like Starbucks.
This is what happened in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the chain of coffee shops. Noad Dinkin, CEO of the Stensul platform, was visiting the city and discovered by connecting to the Starbucks WiFi that he was using his laptop to mine cryptocurrencies.
Dinkin noticed a strange 10-second delay on his computer when he tried to connect to WiFi, and then discovered the code of a well-known cryptocurrency script: Coinhive. The same as we already know of cases like the Pirate Bay, which is used to mine Monero.
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
Once this unexpected discovery was made, Noah went to Twitter with a capture mentioning the official accounts of Starbucks and Starbucks Argentina.
The company responded that as soon as they were aware of the situation in that specific store, they took the necessary actions so that their Internet provider could solve the problem and ensure that customers could use WiFi in a secure manner.
A security breach in the Fibertel WiFi
However, Dinkin later commented that it was not just that specific Starbucks, and that he and a friend found the criptominer in three different coffee shops in the chain in Buenos Aires, after several days of his original tweet.
The Internet provider of Starbucks in Buenos Aires is Fibertel, who blamed hackers for planting the Coinhive code on their networks. “This is not a Fibertel practice, but an intrusion of security.”
A representative of the company told Motherboard that it was an intrusion into the WiFi access solutions offered to Starbucks Argentina , and that the incident had been identified and resolved immediately by the support team.
Neither the first nor the last story of this kind that we are about to see
The cryptocurrency miners like Coinhive hijack the resources of your computer, almost always the CPU, to use its processing power and try to mine the currencies.
The impact of these scripts on any laptop is usually quite evident, when the system becomes slow, and the computer overheats due to excessive workload, but most users will hardly detect or intuit the cause, It is a fairly new practice that increasingly threatens us with more strength.
We are in a critical era for cryptocurrencies, the impressive price rise of Bitcoin has undoubtedly uncovered an interest in these greater than there has ever been, and it makes sense that everyone now wants to invest in digital currencies even asking for a mortgage, or mining them to try to be the next new rich.
The detail is in that the hardware to mine is not cheap, and the electricity either, there are the “creative” solutions to take advantage of others and to sequester their resources in search of the digital treasure.
There is no discrimination between hijacking the Amazon servers of a huge multinational to take over thousands of minicomputers like the Raspberry Pi through malware . It can happen when you visit a “certain reputation” website such as The Pirate Bay, or you can visit the website of a famous television platform such as Showtime.