Starbucks hit by Public Wi-Fi Attack

By:  |  Category: Blog, Security Wednesday, February 7th, 2018  |  No Comments

Starbucks is always an easy place to go when working on the road–reliable and strong coffee, easy Wi-Fi access and tables to spread stuff out on. But I do occasionally worry about using their public Wi-Fi and often look around suspiciously at other customers wondering if one of them is trying to hack into my online life.

Working on the road has it’s risks and using public Wi-Fi access points, such as the ones you find in your hotel, airport or local café is one of them. While public Wi-Fi is incredibly convenient, it’s best used with caution. The two biggest threats are hackers either setting up rogue Wi-Fi access points, or compromising legitimate Wi-Fi access points, to compromise your system. While such attacks are not as common as phishing attacks and malware, it does happen, as seen by a recent BBC article on how one Starbucks’ Wi-Fi made computers mine crypto-currency.

Starbucks has acknowledged that visitors to one of its branches were unwittingly recruited into a crypto-currency mining operation.

Here are a few important reminders to emphasize for people traveling and using public Wi-Fi.

Update: Make sure all your systems, browsers and apps are updated. Cyber attackers are constantly finding new vulnerabilities in the software you use, and your vendors are constantly patching it. Current and updated systems are much more difficult for cyber attackers to hack into.

Encrypt: Encrypt everything you do online, from email to browsing. In a perfect world, this would mean using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) which means everything you do online is encrypted. If you get a warning banner about SSL certificates being used, don’t trust that network.

Tethering: When in doubt, tether your network connection off your smartphone instead of using the public Wi-Fi. This may not always be possible, especially when traveling internationally, but it is one of the most secure methods to connect while traveling.

Yourself: Ultimately you are the best defense. If something about the Wi-Fi connection seems odd or suspicious, simply don’t connect. In fact, it was a person and not technology that found the Starbucks Wi-Fi issue mentioned above. Remember humans are always the last line of defense and a trained employee is one of the best firewalls you can have.

A key element to a successful cyber security awareness program is making sure you are not scaring people into action. Instead, you want to focus on enabling them, how to make the most of technology safely and securely. Telling people to never use public Wi-Fi is in most cases not only impractical, but can have a negative impact to productivity. The goal is to manage your human risk by enabling people to secure themselves in simple steps that anyone can follow.

If you need assistance with cyber-security training give EnhancedTECH a call at 714-970-9330 or contact us at [email protected] for a complimentary consultation.

Source Image: https://www.pexels.com/photo/architecture-building-business-city-303324/

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