Norton 360 Cryptominer

Norton CryptominerThe popular antivirus company quietly added a cryptomining tool to their software in July of 2021, but the addition recently captured the attention and outrage of the cybersecurity community.

Cryptomining uses idle computers to verify cryptocurrency transactions. In return, the verification computer is rewarded financially, usually in cryptocurrency.

Norton’s new add-on mines Ethereum to a pool of other users and charges a hefty fee in the process. The mining tool is not on by default, but users reported having issues not being able to turn it back off once it was enabled.

Critics point out the massive 15% fee Norton is charging as opposed to 1-2% other Ethereum pools charge. There are additional fees associated with getting the Ethereum out of the pool and exchanging it for another currency. Then, there is the increase in electricity usage since the mining software uses otherwise idle computers to do the work.

Norton’s FAQ section explains the fees a user should expect. “The coin mining fee is currently 15% of the crypto allocated to the miner. Transfers of cryptocurrencies may result in transaction fees (also known as “gas” fees) paid to the users of the cryptocurrency blockchain network who process the transaction. In addition, if you choose to exchange crypto for another currency, you may be required to pay fees to an exchange facilitating the transaction. Transaction fees fluctuate due to cryptocurrency market conditions and other factors. These fees are not set by Norton.”

Norton is the clear winner here with their 15% fee, but it’s unclear if individual users will see any benefit.

There is also a security risk. The optics of an antivirus company opening users up to greater risk is not a good look. Cryptomining requires a greater understanding of password and security practices that may be beyond the reach of Norton’s target demographic. The move appears to disregard their typical user in favor of skimming some crypto without assuming any risk.

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Posted by Charles Wright