Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process

from the tales-from-the-crypto dept

If you’re in the IT industry, as I am, and you come across someone talking about using Norton or Symantec antivirus software, as I occasionally do, it typically sends you diving for your calendar to check what year we’re in. The a/v provider, once dominant in the space, has since built a reputation for itself as bloated software that is mostly effective at grinding your computer to a halt. Whether or not that reputation is deserved, the company has also had issues in the past with users claiming an inability to fully remove Norton software when attempting an uninstall. So, a checkered recent past is the point.

Which makes Norton the perfect antivirus company to rollout an update to its Norton 360 platform to allow customers to mine Ethereum with its software!

What is Norton Crypto?
Norton Crypto is a feature made available in Norton 360 which you can utilize for mining cryptocurrency when your PC is idle. Currently, Norton Crypto is limited to users with devices that meet the required system requirements.

Now, the FAQ has, as its second bullet point, a notification that this is all opt-in… but I am 99% sure that wasn’t there when I first viewed it. (Editor’s note: Sure enough, Wayback Machine shows that the page did not originally say that it was only opt-in — though it also does not say that it’s only opt-out). Shame on me for not grabbing a screenshot to be sure, but there were plenty of folks on Twitter who read through it and took this all as sneaky and opt-out.

Now, about that cut that Doctorow references. The FAQ notes that there is no software licensing fee needed to utilize this feature. It’s included in your Norton 360 subscription. However, Norton also takes a 15% cut of all cryptocurrency that is mined by the user’s computer. Twitter had much to say about this as well. Some see this as mostly a free money-grab by Norton, getting a 15% cut when nearly all the mining work is being done on its customers’ computers. Others pointed out that, based on the price of Ethereum, current mining rate projections, and the cost of energy… using this software might actually be a net-negative revenue generator for anyone using it, due to the increase in energy consumption to keep an otherwise idle machine spending GPU cycles to mine crypto.

And still others have pointed out that there are already complaints from users of the platform over, you guessed it, a convoluted process for uninstalling the feature from their computers.

However, according to mAxius and other users, there is no way to fully opt out of the program, and you actually have to dig into NCrypt.exe in your computer’s directory to delete it.

That may not seem like a big deal, but Norton has a rocky relationship with its user base, and the company has seen controversy in the past for poor transparency and not entirely deleting files when uninstalled.

So, in summary, Norton proudly announced that it was adding a feature for users to repurpose antivirus software to mine cryptocurrency, which likely wasn’t clearly labeled as an opt-in feature, in order to take a 15% cut from its own customer base when its used and which it made difficult to actually uninstall if a customer wants to be rid of it.

I’ll give Norton this, at least: this is all very on-brand.

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Comments on “Norton 360 Now Comes With Crypto Mining Capabilities And Sketchy Removal Process”

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Thad (profile) says:

Currently, Norton Crypto is limited to users with devices that meet the required system requirements.

Aside from everything else that’s wrong with this, that sentence is a crime against the English language, logic, and common sense. Never mind "required requirements", what the fuck does it even mean? It’s only currently limited to users with devices that meet the system requirements? In the future, is it not going to be limited to users with devices that meet the system requirements? And wouldn’t that mean that, you know, they’re not actually requirements?

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m wondering how long it will take for other AV vendors to put in a signature that flags Norton AV downloads as a virus due to the presence of a cryptominer.

I’m pretty sure that most if not all of the reputable AV manufacturers wouldn’t even consider bundling a cryptominer of all things in their install package. Is it possible that someone’s shorting Norton stock with this ‘feature?’

Ceyarrecks (profile) says:

The Targets,...

I trust it is obvious that Norton is targeting the young, infirm, and elderly who are "using" PCs,… "using" as defined as leaving on all the time, only checking an email, recipe, or FriendFace, then leaving unattended ’til the morrow,… basically <1-5% of the vast resource available in modern PCs; and with the hope the aforementioned are too ignorant(lacking knowledge) to realize the leach installed.

Anonymous Coward says:

using this software might actually be a net-negative revenue generator for anyone using it, due to the increase in energy consumption to keep an otherwise idle machine spending GPU cycles to mine crypto.

Not "anyone", but just some people. There are still lots of apartments that include electricity with the rent. (In Ontario, Canada, as an example. While landlords could theoretically put anti-mining clauses in new leases, they can’t do a thing about old ones—they’re not even allowed to consider utility costs anymore when applying for "above-guideline" rent increases, thanks to a former politician whom people blamed for high electricity prices and thus higher rent. Anyway, the whole reason it’s included is because those apartments have no separate meters, so it’s not like anyone could prove anything. I’m really surprised we don’t hear landlords bitching about this.)

A corollary, though: people using resistive electric heat can mine effectively for free during cold weather (with possible downsides of poor heat locality and circuit utilization).

Bloof (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The end goal for Squenix, Ubisoft and others is to have games be moneymaking and content engines like Roblox, where they don’t need to pay most of the people working on their product, they have an army of underage serfs producing most of the content in the hopes of making money at some point down the line. Millions of kids more time, effort and real world money into the system gambling on collectable items, which are NFTs in all but blockchain usage. On the rare occasion they code something that makes them enough in game currency to cash out, nine times out of ten they’ll pour it straight back into the game because they have poor judgement, being kids and all, with the company getting a big cut of every single transaction. It’s bleak as f**k.

These companies don’t want to make games, they want to be IP farms where the players do everything they should be paying professionals to do, while they sit back and watch the cash roll in. They’ll still find ways to slash their workforces once a year, even when running largely on user contributions, because capitalism.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And now Konami, of course, is getting into the NFT garbage. I’m not surprised with Konami, of course, but it’s still saddening. What else is truly saddening and maddening is the fact that Peter Molyneux’s new blockchain bullshit game has gained traction in spite of Molyneux being a pathological liar. Then there’s Kickstarter acting like the blockchain will magically make it better when they’ve provided zero use cases for how it will improve.

The blockchain space is loaded with nonsense and scams, as Mike proclaims, but the nonsense and scams are the only things that ever gain any traction because they’re the only ones with any miniscule promise of return on investment. Promises of “good” projects are eternally far off, or thinly veiled B.S. like Filecoin and Chia, which just replace the graphics cards with hard drives.

It also feels like end-users of games and services are on their own this time. Fight For The Future shilling for NFT games and the EFF looking for a crypto shill while [NFTs are made of their members’ faces](], and Mozilla getting into the crypto shit as well…

It never stops, users and consumers are largely on their own, and it’s just another dose of feeling powerless in the midst of corporations and big money controlling damn near everything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

There’s this persistent idea that game development is a moneymaker industry, and/or that it’s sustained by passionate people. It’s technically true… just not across the ecosystem.

The truth is that any major project is built on the back of countless sweatshop workers, and they usually don’t get to reap the benefits of what they’ve contributed to. Roblox was game development trends taken to its extreme conclusion – terrible working hours, unpaid overtime in the name of crunch, and the lingering dream of being able to get to a point where you make major creative decisions that give you the high of making an actual difference.

dickeyrat says:

Hmmm…this might help to explain why suddenly, about two years ago, I started seeing Junk/spams admonishing me to "renew (my) Norton antivirus", just "click here". I had Norton for about ten minutes, probably around five or more years ago; I removed it immediately upon discovering it would not allow me to access the Internet (!). I had a brief experience soon after with Avast, which disallowed several Windows maintenance functions; I swore it off upon learning that Avast technical people were rude idiots. I would also watch Avast for this sort of thing, as I note two or three times per year, expected ritual C-Cleaner updates will try their damnedest to sneak Avast onto your machine, whether you want it or not. Do that to a couple hundred-thousand home machines & pretty soon you’re talking Real Bitcoin!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Fun Fact: Avast is controlled by the chinese government (seriously) its T&Cs state that they are allowed to scan then copy and keep ANY documents on your PC and for the price of free software, you give them the copyright of any document or file you own, that they can then use for any business purpose they want without compensating you

Anonymous Coward says:

Taking bets it mines even if you turn it off, just changes the Wallet to one owned by Norton.

They’ve ALWAYS been shady af.

Same with McAfee and its "accidental" building of a datacenter, followed by ‘accidental’ activation of millions of webcams and ‘accidentally’ recording and storing the footage outside of US and EU jurisdiction.

Rocky says:

Re: Re:

You shouldn’t be surprised, it’s also owned by NortonLifeLock aka Symantec since last year. NortonLifeLock owns Norton, LifeLock, Avira, Thawte, Fireglass, Brightmail and MER. I predict we will soon see cryptominers in products from those companies too.

If you use products from any of the above companies I’d suggest you go and find alternatives.

Gabriel Cross says:

The help section states that Norton Crypto (NCrypt.exe) runs on computers that meet the minimum system requirements. There is no possibility to uninstall the miner by regular means.

In order to disable the miner, you will have to physically remove the NCrypt.exe file from the Program Files\Norton working directory, although even in this case, no one will guarantee that it will not be restored after the next automatic update. If you are about cardano mining or crypto mining hacks read more news at tradecrypto

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