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

Norton 360 wants to pay you a pittance to mine Ethereum cryptocurrency
Written by publishing team

The new opt-in feature turns your idle computer into an encryption program, with Norton taking a 15% discount off the highest value, plus market fees.

Photo: NortonLifeLock

Cybersecurity software company NortonLifeLock is under fire for its decision late last year to begin installing Ethereum mining software on Norton 360 customers’ computers without their permission or knowledge.

Norton Crypto, the new mining component for Norton 360, is not enabled without user subscription, but that hasn’t stopped users from going to the Norton Crypto forum to register their dissatisfaction, and they’re not all dissatisfied with the daemon installation.

We see: NFTs Cheat Sheet: Everything You Need to Know About Non-fungible Tokens (Free PDF) (TechRepublic)

One look at the Norton forum reveals that the audio portion of its user base is angry because software that many consider to be a form of malware has been installed without their consent, they are having a hard time uninstalling it, they are upset about the impact of Ethereum mining on the environment and more.

What exactly does Norton do?

There is a lot to be suspicious of when it comes to 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 suggests.

According to the Norton Crypto FAQ, its software can be disabled in the Norton Crypto dashboard and the rewards are paid divided among a group of all Norton 360 crypto mining users. All you have to do is turn it on and Norton will handle everything else, including thresholds, your wallet, and the decision of when/when not to use it. Users are free to transfer Ethereum from their Norton wallet to Coinbase.

Norton also probably doesn’t want to build up more of a reputation as a hardware-slicing software vendor, so they’ve made the requirements for using Norton Crypto fairly stringent: an NVIDIA GPU with at least 6GB of memory, a 1GHz processor, and RAM. It’s 2GB, Windows 7 SP1 or later, and it won’t run on Windows 10 in S mode or devices that use ARM processors.

Norton Crypto: Why the hate?

Probably the most notable thing that critics hit (aside from installing unwanted software) is the 15% “mining fee” that Norton scrapes from the top, which means you instantly lose 15% of the Ethereum you mine. This is in addition to the subscription fees already paid by users.

In addition, Norton does not cover any transactions or gas fees associated with the sale or transfer of Ethereum from its wallet to Coinbase. More than one Norton Crypto forum poster has said that they are unable to withdraw their credit, as the fee will exceed what they have earned.

Then there’s the power consumption issue: Is the additional electricity expenditure incurred with a very small contribution to the Norton mining pool sufficient to advance once you get your share of the profits? Like Bitcoin, Ethereum’s energy consumption is ridiculous: a single Ethereum blockchain transaction consumes more than 100,000 Visa card transactions, or roughly the amount of energy an average US household uses in a week. Miners directly contribute to this level of energy consumption, so it is important to ask what you will actually get back in return, which in this case may turn out to be a loss.

Several people have also raised alarms due to the fact that Ncrypt.exe, the actual Norton 360 mining application, cannot be removed easily. Users have reported that Ncrypt.exe must already be located and manually deleted with Norton deactivated. However, there is no guarantee that it will not be reinstalled automatically at the next Norton 360 update.

A NortonLifeLock representative informed me that the above is true, stating that “If users run Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be deleted by Norton 360 by temporarily turning off Tamper Protection (which allows users to modify their installation Norton) and delete NCrypt.exe from your computer.”

Additionally, Norton said that NCrypt.exe will be reinstalled during a “full software update,” but that reinstalling will not restart it again. A Norton representative also said that NCrypt.exe “cannot be run by other processes,” which, if true, means that it should hopefully not be compromised by an attacker who managed to compromise your system.

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

There is another concern, cybersecurity expert Brian Krebs said on his blog: Norton’s arrival will put cryptocurrency ahead of people who may not be prepared to meet its security challenges. “[Norton Crypto] It will introduce millions of 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 “upgrade” their personal security practices in fairly significant ways,” Krebs said.

Norton 360 Customers: Are you planning to use Norton Crypto, or are you already planning? Scroll down below to help your fellow readers understand more about it.

This article has been updated to add responses from NortonLifeLock.

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