Starbucks has acknowledged that visitors to one of its stores in Argentina were unknowingly infected by malware to hijack connected computers to use their CPU processing power to mine for digital currency.
In a twitter post, Starbucks released the following statement:
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.
This incident highlights the risks of using public Wi-Fi. When you use public Wi-Fi, your personal information and potentially your business applications are at risk. Public Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient and has been enourmously helpful for folks on the move in hotels, airports, and cafes. This convenience has created an amazing opportunity for criminals who wish to access your devices.
What Are the Risks of Public Wi-Fi?
The biggest risk using compliementary Wi-Fi is the chance that a hacker will position himself between you and the connection point. If you are transferring sensitive information such as your your corporate email or online banking user id and password credentials across the wireless network (like the one in a typical Starbucks), your information could be intercepted by the hacker who then has this information to use to attempt to access your systems.
As we saw in the Starbucks case, hackers can also use an unsecured Wi-Fi network to distribute Malware. If you then return to your office and join your firm's network with an infected device, you could possibly infect your corporate network.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi Risks
Use SSL Connections
Enable the "Always Use HTTPS" option on your browser. You can install a browser plugin like the Chrome HTTPS Everywhere extension. HTTPS Everywhere is an extension created by EFF and the Tor Project which automatically switches thousands of sites from insecure "" to secure "https". It will protect you against many forms of surveillance and account hijacking. It is updated periodically to ensure HTTPS is enabled on as many sites as possible.
Turn Off Sharing
When connecting to the Internet via a public, free, public Internet hotspot such as the one in an airport or hotel, you will want to turn off sharing from your machine's system preferences or Control Panel prior to connecting.
Using a robust anti-virus, anti-malware solution that is installed and running on your machine is a must if you are someone who will be using public Wi-Fi frequently. These solutions will run a Malware scan on your files, and will scan new files as they are downloaded.
Use a VPN
A virtual private network (VPN) connection is a service that lets you route all your activity through a separate secure, private network, giving you the security of a private network even though you're on a public one. we recommend CyberGhost as a dead simple, free option. Install it on your computer, turn it on whenever you're on a public network, and you'll be much safer than without it. If you are a business, with us to go over our preferred solution -Watchguard's IPSEC VPN Client and Firewall.
The issue was identified only when the chief executive of a New York-based technology company logged into the service and noticed the problem.