November 26, 2022

TheCyberThrone

Thinking Security ! Always

Norton LifeLock Engages in CryptoMining

NortonLifeLock is coming under fire for its decision late last year to begin installing Ethereum mining software on its Norton 360 customers’ PCs without their permission or knowledge. 

Norton Crypto, the new Norton 360 mining component, isn’t enabled without the user opting in, but that hasn’t stopped users from taking to Norton’s Crypto forum to register their discontent, and they aren’t all upset about the sneaky installation.

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In Norton Crypto FAQ, its software is opt-in can be disabled in the Norton Crypto dashboard and pays out rewards split between a pool of all its crypto-mining Norton 360 users. One need to do is fire it up and Norton will handle everything else, including thresholds, your wallet and the decision of when/when not to mine. Users are free to transfer their Ethereum out of their Norton wallet and over to Coinbase. 

Norton also probably doesn’t want to build more of a reputation as selling software that fries hardware, so they’ve made the requirements for using Norton Crypto somewhat strict: An NVIDIA GPU with at least 6GB of memory, a 1GHz processor, 2GB RAM, Windows 7 SP1 or newer, and it won’t run on Windows 10 in S mode or machines that use ARM processors. 

Norton doesn’t cover any transaction or fees associated with selling or transferring Ethereum out of its wallet to Coinbase. More than one Norton Crypto forum poster said that they were unable to withdraw their balance, as the fees would exceed what they had earned.

A single Ethereum blockchain transaction eats up more than 100,000 Visa card transactions. Miners directly contribute to that level of energy consumption.

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Several people have also raised alarms due to the fact that Ncrypt.exe, the actual application doing the mining for Norton 360, can’t be easily uninstalled. Users report having to actually locate Ncrypt.exe and manually delete it with Norton deactivated. There’s no guarantee, that it won’t be automatically reinstalled when Norton 360 is next updated.

Norton said that NCrypt.exe will be reinstalled during a full software update, but that the reinstall won’t turn it back on. The Norton representative also said that NCrypt.exe cannot be run by other processes,if correct, would mean that it hopefully can’t be hijacked by an attacker who manages to break through into your system.

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