Norton, the maker of Norton AntiVirus, one of the most commonly used computer security products in the world, has recently included a crypto mining tool to its top Norton 360 protection package called “Norton Crypto,” which lets customers use their idle PC resources to mine Ethereum.
Norton creates a new revenue stream by launching a cryptocurrency mining botnet and charging a 15% fee for the service.
With origins dating back to 1991, when the first edition of its protection software was released, Norton is a staple of computer security and a top antivirus software provider globally.
Norton is seeking to cash in on the burgeoning cryptocurrency trend by offering customers of its Norton 360 suite the chance to earn Ethereum prizes by participating in a crypto mining botnet.
However, there is a catch. Norton takes a 15% fee for the service, so consumers only get 85 percent of the Ethereum they mined using their computers – the rest is kept by Norton.
Furthermore, the cryptocurrency funds are originally placed into an online Norton digital wallet and must be transferred to a Coinbase account before they can be withdrawn, meaning that users incur additional charges in the form of Ethereum gas fees.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’s product doesn’t make any financial sense for the typical user, according to The Verge, which recently did a thorough dive into the matter, comparing “Norton Crypto” to comparable mining pool services.
Not only do similar cloud mining businesses charge between 1% and 2%, but Norton also charges a membership fee for its antivirus services, making an already uncomfortable scenario even worse from a consumer standpoint. The Verge team put the new functionality to the test and came up with 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 claims that its mining service protects users from “unvetted programs on their devices that might be skimming from earnings or even planting ransomware,” which is undeniably a risk of downloading and installing third-party mining software from questionable sources.
While Norton Crypto isn’t turned on by default, the “NCrypt.exe” service is installed on all Norton 360 machines, which has led some customers to fear that Norton is “sneakingly” installing crypto mining software on their computers.
Furthermore, consumer complaints regarding the exorbitant costs and software issues associated with the service abound in the online conversation taking place on Norton’s public forums.