Norton has an interesting feature tucked inside its Norton 360 antivirus subscription—a cryptocurrency miner. It’s not turned on by default, but it is installed as part of your antivirus package whether you want it or not.
The crypto-miner actually rolled out in July 2021 to some users, but the company has started a wider rollout recently. Some users are upset because the mining software is installed automatically as part of Norton 360, and the software pushes mining on users through a prompt that says, “Turn your PC’s idle time into cash,” as shown in the image above.
Thankfully, you have to turn the feature on and meet Norton’s strict system requirements (an NVIDIA graphics card with a minimum of 6GB memory will be the main sticking point for most). However, there doesn’t appear to be a way to completely uninstall the crypto mining software, which has upset some users.
Norton says it made its crypto mining software because it “allows the customers to mine for Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency, more safely during their PC’s idle time. They will operate within a “pool” of Norton Crypto miners, delivering greater efficiencies and enabling all users to share in the rewards.” Essentially, Norton believes this is a safer way to mine Ethereum than other methods.
Of course, Norton isn’t offering this mining service out of the kindness of its heart. The company charges a high 15% fee off the top and an additional fee to transfer your currency to another wallet, so the company stands to make decent money off of its mining tool.
There’s nothing malicious happening here, but users are never thrilled when they get a piece of software to do one thing (in this case, protect their PCs), and it adds something else without their permission. With that said, as long as it’s not turned on by default and Norton is upfront about it, the company isn’t technically doing anything wrong.
Update, 1/7/22 11:22 am Eastern: A Norton spokesperson reached out to us with clarification regarding the ability to remove the feature and how the fees work:
Norton Crypto is an opt-in feature only and is not enabled without user permission. If users have turned on Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be disabled through Norton 360 by temporarily shutting off “tamper protection” (which allows users to modify the Norton installation) and deleting NCrypt.exe from your computer.
There is a coin mining fee to use Norton Crypto, but we do not charge users transaction fees once the cryptocurrency is mined. The transaction fee that users may see is the traditional Etherium network fee that is associated with digital currency movement, and not paid to NortonLifeLock.
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