Norton 360 wants to pay you a pittance to mine Ethereum cryptocurrency

The new activation feature turns your idle PC into a cryptominer, with Norton skimming 15% on top, plus market fees.

Image: NortonLifeLock

Cybersecurity software company NortonLifeLock has come under fire for its decision late last year to start installing Ethereum mining software on the PCs of its Norton 360 customers without their permission or knowledge.

Norton Crypto, the new Norton 360 mining component, is not activated without the user choosing it, but that did not prevent users from going to the Norton Crypto forum to register their dissatisfaction, and they’re not all upset by the sneaky installation.

SEE: NFT Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Non-Fungible Tokens (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

A look at Norton’s forum reveals that the vocal part of its user base is angry that software that many consider to be a form of malware was installed without their consent, they are having a hard time uninstalling it. , they’re upset with Ethereum mining’s record on the environment and more.

What exactly is Norton doing?

There are plenty of reasons to be wary of companies asking for permission to mine cryptocurrency on your computer, but it’s a good idea to take a step back and see what Norton has to offer.

According to Norton Crypto’s FAQ, its software can be disabled in the Norton Crypto dashboard and pays out rewards split among a pool of all of its Norton 360 crypto-mining users. All you have to do is launch it and Norton will handle everything else, including thresholds, your wallet, and the decision of when / when not to mine. Users are free to transfer their Ethereum from their Norton wallet to Coinbase.

Norton probably doesn’t want to build a reputation for selling software that sinter hardware either, so they’ve made the requirements for using Norton Crypto somewhat stringent: an NVIDIA GPU with at least 6 GB of memory, 1 processor. GHz, 2 GB of RAM, Windows 7 SP1 or newer, and it will not work on Windows 10 in S mode or on machines using ARM processors.

Norton Crypto: Why the hate?

The most notable thing that detractors have probably found (aside from unsolicited software installation) is the 15% “mining fee” that Norton takes off the top, which means you immediately lose $ 15. % of the Ethereum you mine. This is in addition to the subscription fees that users are already paying.

Additionally, Norton does not cover any transaction or gas fees associated with selling or transferring Ethereum from its wallet to Coinbase. More than one poster on the Norton Crypto forum stated that she was unable to withdraw her balance because the fees would exceed what she had earned.

Then there’s the problem of power consumption: Is the extra electricity expense from such a small contribution to the Norton mining pool enough to come out on top once you get your share of the revenue? Like Bitcoin, Ethereum’s energy consumption is ridiculous: A single Ethereum blockchain transaction consumes over 100,000 Visa card transactions, roughly the amount of energy an average American household uses in a week. Miners directly contribute to this level of power consumption, so it’s important to consider what you’re actually getting in return, which in this case can turn out to be a waste.

Several people have also raised alarms due to the fact that Ncrypt.exe, the actual application that performs mining for Norton 360, cannot be easily uninstalled. Users report having to locate Ncrypt.exe and remove it manually with Norton disabled. However, there is no guarantee that it will not be automatically reinstalled the next time you update Norton 360.

A NortonLifeLock representative informed me that the above is correct, stating that “If users have enabled Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be removed through Norton 360 by temporarily disabling ‘Tamper Protection’ (which allows users to modify the installation of Norton) and remove NCrypt.exe from your computer. “

Additionally, Norton has stated that NCrypt.exe will be reinstalled during a “full software update”, but reinstallation will not re-enable it. The Norton representative also stated that NCrypt.exe “cannot be executed by other processes” which, if correct, would mean that it hopefully cannot be hijacked by an attacker who manages to get into your system.

SEE: Metaverse Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need to Know (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Cyber ​​security expert Brian Krebs said on his blog that there was another concern: Norton’s reach will put cryptocurrency in front of people who might not be ready for its security challenges. “[Norton Crypto] will introduce millions of perhaps less savvy internet users to the world of cryptocurrency, which comes with its own set of unique security and privacy challenges that require users to “improve” their security practices personal in a pretty important way, ”Krebs said.

Norton 360 Customers: Are you considering using Norton Crypto, or have you already done so? Ring the bell below to help fellow readers learn more about it.

This article has been updated to add answers from NortonLifeLock.

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