Cybersecurity Firm Norton Pivots to Crypto, Allows Users to Mine Ethereum With Their Idle PC Power


Cybersecurity Firm Norton Pivots to Crypto, Allows Users to Mine Ethereum With Their Idle PC Power

Key takeaways:

  • Norton allows its Norton 360 product users to turn their computer’s idle time to cash
  • Norton charges a 15% fee for the service; users need to transfer their ETH to Coinbase before withdrawing, incurring high gas fees as a result
  • The service has drawn a lot of ire from users complaining about the high fee and lack of transparency

Norton, the creator and developer of Norton AntiVirus, one of the most widely-used computer security products in the world, has recently introduced a crypto mining feature dubbed “Norton Crypto” to its premier Norton 360 security suite that allows users to put their idle PC power towards Ethereum mining.

Norton opens a new revenue stream with a crypto mining botnet, charges a 15% fee for the service

Norton is a staple of computer security and a leading antivirus software provider globally, with roots dating back to 1991 when the first version of its security software was released. Now, over 30 years later, Norton is looking to capitalize on a growing cryptocurrency trend by giving its Norton 360 suite users an opportunity to earn Ethereum rewards by participating in a crypto mining botnet.

But there is a catch. Norton charges a 15% fee for the service, meaning that users receive only 85% of the Ethereum they mined with their PCs – Norton withholds the remainder. On top of that, the crypto funds are initially deposited into an online Norton digital wallet and must be transferred to a Coinbase account before they can be withdrawn, meaning that users incur additional charges in the form of Ethereum gas fees. 

Norton Crypto dashboard. Image source: Norton

According to The Verge, which recently made a deep dive into the topic, comparing “Norton Crypto” to comparable mining pool services, Norton’s offering doesn’t make much financial sense for the average consumer. Not only does the fee from similar cloud mining services usually range between 1% and 2%, Norton already charges a subscription fee for its antivirus services, which makes the unpleasant situation even worse from the consumer standpoint. The team at The Verge tried out the new feature for themselves and came to the following conclusion:

“With the current difficulty of mining a block and Ethereum prices, we completely broke even for what we earned versus what we paid for power. In real numbers, a night of mining on an RTX 3060 Ti netted $0.66 cents worth of Ethereum and cost $0.66 in off-peak electricity. Norton took all the profit.”

Norton argues that its mining service helps users avoid “Unvetted code on their machines that could be skimming from the earnings or even planting ransomware,” which is undoubtedly a potential byproduct of downloading and installing third-party mining software from untrustworthy sources. 

While Norton Crypto doesn’t come automatically turned on out of the box, the “NCrypt.exe” service does get installed on all machines running Norton 360, which has led some users to believe that Norton is “sneakily” installing crypto mining software to their computers. Additionally, the online discussion taking place on Norton’s public forums is full of user complaints about the exuberant fees and software bugs related to the service.

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