Norton is facing criticism for including a coin miner alongside its Norton 360 security software. Activists like Cory Doctorow has claimed That the company “hiddenly installs encryption software on your computer” and dumps a commission on earnings and outlets like computer magAnd Crepes on security, And digital trends They also wrote about users who expressed their frustration with trying to uninstall it. While these claims are more than a shred of truth, we’ve delved into them and found them to be exaggerated.
Last summer, Norton publicly announced that it was adding a cryptocurrency miner to its Norton 360 security suite, making it a safer alternative to trying to install complex, “unrestricted” mining software from the Internet. It was initially only available to a limited number of users, but now appears to be available to anyone who installs the software – but in the six months or so since the announcement, there hasn’t been much discussion about the software until this week.
This is ridiculous. Norton “Antivirus” now installs an encryption program on your computer, then SKIMS A COMMISSION. https://t.co/6s2otyCd78
– Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) January 4, 2022
Now, he has suddenly become the center of the backlash Some Twitter users Norton is accused of Install crypto miner on users’ computers without any warning. In a very technical sense, it’s true – my colleague Sean Hollister installed a copy of Norton 360 for himself and actually found that the NCrypt.exe mining application was included in the program directory.
However, this does not mean that Norton will automatically start mining on your computer, as some believe. Norton’s FAQ says that it will not be mined without permission and that “In addition to having a device that meets the system requirements, you should also run Norton Crypto on your device.” Sean says that to his knowledge, this appears to be true; The surreptitious feature is not activated after Norton is installed. Didn’t open until asked.
tl; DR is that Yes, Norton installs a crypto miner with its software, without making it clear in the initial setup process. But it won’t do anything unless you specifically opt in, so it’s not a case where you install the security suite and immediately start seeing your computer lag while it’s processing encryption in the background.
A NortonLifeLock spokesperson also said the edge In an email, you can completely remove NCrypt.exe by temporarily turning off Norton’s Tamper Protection feature, then deleting the executable. We’ve confirmed this ourselves, and it might be good news for anyone worried about Norton activating the feature remotely.
We asked Norton if it would pledge that the feature will always be enabled, and a Spring Harris spokesperson told us that “[the] The feature requires device-specific hardware and user consent to operate. We are transparent about how our software performs on user devices and have no intention of changing that.”
None of this is in defense of Norton’s inclusion of a cryptocurrency miner in its security suite – it’s simply to explain what’s going on and what’s not.
As mentioned earlier, we installed Norton ourselves to get first-hand experience with the miner. While the service may be subscriptionable, Norton doesn’t make it difficult to find — when Sean installed the software, his control panel had a large green banner at the top with the text “Turn your computer’s idle time into cash”. Clicking the Show Me How button shows you a slideshow about the feature, a large OK and Get Started button, and smaller text letting you know that the feature you’re on is Norton Crypto.
After you launch Norton Crypto, it will set up a wallet for you, and immediately start using your PC’s GPU to mine Ethereum (their system requirements say you need an Nvidia or AMD card with at least 6GB of memory). Any winnings will be deposited periodically into the wallet prepared for you, and once you reach the minimum, you will be able to withdraw your winnings to Coinbase.
Norton has an incentive to get people to use the feature. as PC He noted that when he tried out the software last year, Norton took 15 percent of any profits you make from mining. Without getting too deep into how mining works, Norton Crypto’s Terms of Service (PDF) says it runs a mining pool, which combines everyone’s computing power to increase the chances of mining a block — when that happens, everyone who contributed the energy gets a share of the prize. It’s that bounty that Norton gets his share of.
Swimming pool operators often take a deduction or fee to get everyone together. However, the fees are usually closer to 1 or 2 percent, which is obviously much lower. And of course, there’s the elephant in the room: anyone using Norton Lee has already paid the company a subscription fee for its security software (and after we bought a copy, we paid Also We must provide our payment information so that it can renew itself each year).
Is the reward from mining good enough that you can ignore the high fees, or consider it an adequate cost of not having to figure out how to join a pool on your own (which is usually a reasonable technical process)? We tried it ourselves, and measured electricity consumption with a Kill-A-Watt energy meter. consequences? With the current difficulty of mining the block and the price of Ethereum, we totally broke what we earned for what we paid for energy. In real numbers, a night of mining on the RTX 3060 Ti netted 0.66 cents worth of Ethereum and cost $0.66 in off-peak electricity. Norton took all the profits.
Given the edgeAnti-Cryptocurrency Policy We will immediately divest a portion of the ETH we earned in our test.
Even if you have more powerful mining hardware and cheaper electricity, the Norton model can end up being a tough deal. You deposit your share of Ethereum into your Norton Crypto wallet, but if you want to use it or exchange it for fiat currency, you will have to cash it – currently, the only option for that is to transfer it to your Coinbase account. However, doing so will result in a transaction fee (also known as gas fee) charged by the Ethereum network itself. This could mean that you will have to mine a lot of cryptocurrencies before it makes sense to withdraw them from your Norton wallet.
The deal looks a lot better off Norton’s end, though – as is often the case with cryptocurrencies, size is key here. While using this feature may not be particularly profitable for any one, if a lot of people try it, Norton discounts can add up to a significant amount. It’s hard to say if that’s enough to offset the PR success the company is taking away from the feature — but even Twitter ignored, users on Norton’s Crypto forum didn’t seem particularly happy with the way things were going.