Norton 360 Now Comes With a Cryptominer – Krebs on Security

Norton 360One of the most popular antivirus products on the market today has installed crypto-mining software on its customers’ computers. Norton’s parent company says the cloud-based service that activates the software and allows customers to profit off the scheme — the company keeps 15 percent of any coins mined — is a “subscription,” meaning users have to agree to enable it. But many Norton users are complaining about the difficulty of removing the mining software, and feedback from long-time customers ranged from uneasiness and disbelief to, “Dude, where’s my encryption?”

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

According to an FAQ posted on her site, “Norton CryptoIt will mine Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency when the client computer is idle. The FAQ also says that Norton Crypto will only work on systems that meet certain hardware and software requirements (such as an NVIDIA graphics card with at least 6GB of memory).

The FAQ says, “Norton creates a secure digital Ethereum wallet for every user.” “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 early news coverage of the program did not immediately gain widespread attention. That changed on January 4, when Boing Boing’s co-editor Cory Doro chirp NortonCrypto will be turned on by default for Norton 360 users.

NortonLifeLock says that Norton Crypto is a subscription only feature and is not enabled without the user’s permission.

“If users run Norton Crypto but no longer want to use the feature, it can be temporarily disabled by turning off Tamper Protection (which allows users to modify Norton installation) and deleting NCrypt.exe from your computer,” NortonLifeLock said in a statement. written. However, several users reported that the mining software was difficult to remove.

From reading user posts on the Norton Crypto community forum, it appears that some old Norton customers were horrified that their antivirus product might install coin mining software, regardless of whether the mining service was turned off by default.

“How could anyone at Norton think that adding crypto mining within a security product would be a good thing?”

“Norton should detect and kill mining hijacks, not install their own software,” the post reads. “The product people need. What’s the next “bright idea”? Norton Potent?” and I was about to reinstall Norton 360 as well, but that literally made me no longer trust Norton and their direction.

It is an open question as to whether Norton Crypto users can expect to make a lot of profit from participating in this system, at least in the short term. Cryptocurrency mining basically involves using the backup resources of your computer to help validate the financial transactions of other crypto users. Mining cryptocurrency causes the computer to draw more energy, which can increase overall electricity costs.

“Norton is greatly amplifying energy consumption around the world, costing its customers more electricity than it does mining, while allowing Norton to make a lot more profit,” chirp security researcher Chris Vickery. “It’s disgusting, disgusting, and suicide for the brand.”

Then there is the issue of getting money. Norton Crypto allows users to withdraw their winnings to an account in the cryptocurrency platform CoinBase, but as the Norton Crypto FAQ rightly points out, there are coin mining fees as well as transaction costs for transferring Ethereum.

The FAQ states: “Currently the fee for coin mining is 15% of the cryptocurrency allocated to the miner.” “Cryptocurrency transfers may result in transaction fees (also known as “gas” fees) to users of the crypto-blockchain network processing the transaction. Additionally, if you choose to exchange your cryptocurrency for another currency, you may be required to pay a fee to an exchange. Facilitates the transaction. Transaction fees fluctuate due to cryptocurrency market conditions and other factors. These fees are not specified by Norton.”

Which may explain why many Norton Crypto users take to the online community forum to complain that they are having trouble withdrawing their earnings. These gas fees are the same regardless of how much cryptocurrency is transferred, so the system simply blocks withdrawals if the requested amount does not cover the transfer fee.

Norton Crypto. Photo: a sleeping computer.

I think what bothers me most about Norton Crypto is that it will introduce millions of less savvy internet users to the cryptocurrency world, which comes with its own set of unique security and privacy challenges that require users to “upgrade” their personal security practices in somewhat significant ways.

Many of my older family members and close friends are old Norton users who renew their subscription year after year (although remind them that it’s cheaper to buy it again every year as a new user). None of them are particularly interested or experts in securing their computers and digital lives, and the idea of ​​opening CoinBase accounts and navigating this space is terrifying.

Big Yellow isn’t the only brand that is profiting from investor enthusiasm for cryptocurrency and hoping to appeal to a wider (or perhaps even larger) audience: the venerable electronics retailer Radio ShackRelaunched in 2020 as an internet-focused brand, it now says it plans to chart a future as a cryptocurrency exchange.

“RadioShack’s argument is basically that as a very old brand, they are willing to sell their old CEOs on crypto,” he wrote. Uday Robertson to the edge.

“too much [cryptocurrency companies] Focus on speculation and not enough to make an “old-school” customer feel comfortable,” the company’s website explains, claiming that the average age for a CEO to “make a decision” is 68. “The older generation simply does not trust the new ideas of the Bitcoin youth. .”