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Norton 360 now comes with a cryptominer – Krebs on Security

Norton 360, one of the most popular antivirus products on the market today, has installed a cryptocurrency mining program on its customers’ computers. Norton’s parent company said the cloud-based service that activates the program and allows customers to take advantage of the program – in which the company keeps 15% of all currencies mined – is “opt-in,” which means that users must agree to activate. But many Norton users complain that the mining program is difficult to remove, and reactions from longtime customers range from unease and disbelief to “Dude, where’s my crypto?” “

Norton 360 is owned by Tempe, Arizona NortonLifeLock Inc. In 2017, the identity theft protection company LifeLock was acquired by Symantec Corp., which was renamed NortonLifeLock in 2019 (LifeLock is now included in the Norton 360 service).

According to the FAQ published on its site, “Norton Crypto“will be mine Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency while the customer’s computer is idle. The FAQ also states that Norton Crypto will only work on systems that meet certain hardware and software requirements (such as an NVIDIA graphics card with at least 6 GB of memory).

“Norton creates a secure digital Ethereum wallet for every user,” the FAQ reads. “The wallet key is encrypted and stored securely in the cloud. Only you have access to the wallet.

NortonLifeLock began offering mining service in July 2021, and early media coverage of the program was not given much immediate attention. This changed on January 4, when Boing boing co-editor Cory doctorow tweeted that NortonCrypto would run by default for Norton 360 users.

NortonLifeLock indicates that Norton Crypto is an optional feature only and is not activated without user permission.

“If users have enabled Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be disabled by temporarily disabling ‘Tamper Protection’ (which allows users to modify the Norton installation) and removing NCrypt.exe from your computer, ”NortonLifeLock said in a written statement. However, many users reported difficulties in phasing out the mining program.

Reading posts from users on the Norton Crypto community forum, it appears that some long-time Norton customers have been appalled that their antivirus product installs coin mining software, which the Norton service provides. mining is or is not disabled by default.

“How on earth could someone at Norton think that adding crypto mining to a security product would be a good thing?” It reads a thread from December 28 titled “Absolutely Furious”.

“Norton should DETECT and eliminate crypto-mining hijacking, not install theirs,” the post read. “The product that people need to get. What’s the next “bright idea”? Norton botnet? And I was about to reinstall Norton 360 too, but that literally made me lose faith in Norton and their management.

It is an open question whether Norton Crypto users can expect to gain much from participating in this program, at least in the short term. Cryptocurrency mining is basically using your spare computer resources to help validate the financial transactions of other crypto users. Cryptocurrency mining causes the computer to consume more power, which can increase overall electricity costs.

“Norton pretty much amplifies energy use around the world, costing its customers more in electricity use than the customer does on mining, while still allowing Norton to achieve a ton. of benefits ” tweeted security researcher Chris Vickery. “It’s disgusting, disgusting and a mark of suicide.”

Then there is the matter of getting paid. Norton Crypto allows users to withdraw their earnings to an account on the CoinBase cryptocurrency platform, but as the Norton Crypto FAQ rightly points out, there are coin mining fees as well as costs of transaction to transfer Ethereum.

“The coin mining fee is currently 15% of the crypto allocated to the miner,” the FAQ explains. “Cryptocurrency transfers may incur transaction fees (also known as ‘gas’ fees) paid to users of the cryptocurrency blockchain network who process the transaction. Additionally, if you choose to exchange cryptos for another currency, you may need to pay fees to an exchange that facilitates the transaction. Transaction fees fluctuate due to cryptocurrency market conditions and other factors. These charges are not set by Norton.

Which might explain why so many Norton Crypto users have taken to the community’s online forum to complain about having trouble withdrawing their earnings. These gas fees are the same regardless of how much crypto is moved, so the system simply blocks withdrawals if the requested amount cannot cover the transfer fee.

Norton Crypto. Image: Computer beeping.

Guess what bothers me the most about Norton Crypto is that it will introduce millions of perhaps less savvy internet users into the world of cryptocurrency, which comes with its own set of Unique security and privacy challenges that require users to “improve” their personal security practices in quite significant ways.

Many of my older family and closest friends are long-time Norton users who renew their subscription year after year (although I remind them that it is much cheaper to buy it again every year. as a new user). None of them are particularly interested or expert in securing their computers and digital lives, and the idea that they open CoinBase accounts and navigate this space is terrifying.

Big Yellow isn’t the only brand that is capitalizing on investor fervor for cryptocurrencies and hoping to appeal to a wider (or maybe just older) audience: the venerable electronics retailer. RadioShack, which was relaunched in 2020 as a web-driven brand, now says it plans to prepare for a future as a cryptocurrency exchange.

“RadioShack’s argument is basically that as a very old brand it is willing to sell former CEOs on cryptocurrency,” writing Adi robertson for The edge.

“Too much [cryptocurrency companies] focused on speculation and not enough on putting the ‘old-fashioned’ customer at ease, ”the firm’s website says, claiming that the CEO of a ‘decision-making’ firm needs to average 68 years. “The older generation just doesn’t trust the new ideas of the Bitcoin youth.”