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 says the cloud-based service that activates the program and allows clients to benefit from the scheme, in which the company keeps 15 percent of mined coins, is “opt-in,” which means that users must agree to enable it. But many Norton users complain that the mining program is difficult to remove, and long-time customer reactions range from unease and disbelief to “Dude, where’s my crypto?”

Norton 360 is owned by Arizona-based Tempe. 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 frequently asked questions posted on their site, “Norton Crypto”It will mine the cryptocurrency Ethereum (ETH) while the client’s computer is idle. The FAQ also says that Norton Crypto will only run on systems that meet certain hardware and software requirements (such as an NVIDIA graphics card with at least 6GB of memory).

“Norton creates a secure digital Ethereum wallet for each 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 the mining service in July 2021, and the early news coverage of the program did not immediately receive widespread attention. That changed on January 4, when Boing Boing’s co-editor Cory Doctorow tweeted NortonCrypto would run by default for Norton 360 users.

NortonLifeLock says that Norton Crypto is just an optional feature and is not enabled without user permission.

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

Reading user posts on the Norton Crypto community forum, it appears that some longtime Norton customers were horrified at the prospect of their antivirus product installing coin mining software, regardless of whether the mining service it was disabled by default.

“How the hell could anyone at Norton think adding crypto mining inside a security product would be a good thing?” Reads a Dec. 28 thread titled “Absolutely Angry.”

“Norton should be DETECTING and ending cryptocurrency mining hijacking, not installing its own,” the post says. “The product that people need to shoot. What’s the next ‘bright idea’? Norton Botnet? “And I was about to reinstall Norton 360 as well, but this has literally made me no longer trust Norton and its management.”

It is an open question whether Norton Crypto users can expect to make a lot of profit from participating in this scheme, at least in the short term. Cryptocurrency mining basically involves using your computer’s spare resources to help validate the financial transactions of other crypto users. Crypto mining makes the computer consume more power, which can increase overall electricity costs.

“Norton is practically amplifying energy use around the world, costing its customers more in electricity use than the customer earns in mining, but allowing Norton to make a huge amount of profit.” tweeted security researcher Chris vickery. “It’s disgusting, disgusting and brand-name 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 and transaction costs to transfer Ethereum.

“The coin mining fee is currently 15% of the crypto allocated to the miner,” the FAQ section explains. “Cryptocurrency transfers can result in transaction fees (also known as ‘gas’ fees) paid to users of the cryptocurrency blockchain network processing the transaction. Also, if you choose to exchange cryptocurrency for another currency, you may have to pay fees to an exchange that facilitates the transaction. Transaction fees fluctuate due to cryptocurrency market conditions and other factors. Norton does not set these fees. “

Which could explain why so many Norton Crypto users have taken to the community online forum to complain that they were having trouble withdrawing their earnings. Those gas fees are the same regardless of how much crypto is moved, so the system simply blocks withdrawals if the requested amount can’t cover the transfer fees.

Norton Crypto. Image: Bleeping Computer.

I guess what bothers me the most about Norton Crypto is that it will introduce millions of internet users, perhaps less savvy, to the world of cryptocurrencies, which comes with its own set of unique security and privacy challenges that require users to “upload. level “your security practices in quite significant ways.

Several of my older family members and closest friends are long-time Norton users who renew their subscription year after year (even though I have reminded them that it is much cheaper to buy it again each year as a new user). None of them are particularly interested or adept at protecting their computers and digital lives, and the idea of ​​them opening CoinBase accounts and navigating that space is terrifying.

Big Yellow isn’t the only brand cashing in on investor fervor for cryptocurrencies and hopes to appeal to a broader (or perhaps simply larger) audience: the venerable electronics retailer. Radio Shack, which relaunched in 2020 as an online-focused brand, now says it plans to chart a future as a cryptocurrency exchange.

“RadioShack’s argument is basically that, as a very old brand, it is prepared to sell out the former CEOs in crypto,” he writes. Adi robertson for The edge.

“Too many [cryptocurrency companies] focused on speculation and not enough on making the ‘old school’ customer feel comfortable, “states the company’s website, stating that the average corporate CEO of” decision making “is 68 years old. “The older generation just doesn’t trust the youngsters’ novel ideas of Bitcoin.”

Leave a Comment