Norton now installing cryptocurrency mining program alongside its security suite

Norton is being criticized for adding a cryptocurrency mining program in its Norton 360 security suite. While Norton has been upfront about its intention to incorporate the program, the decision has received a lot of criticism.

Norton claims that the miner is secure and trustworthy, but the move still raises questions about the ethics underlying it.

Although Norton Crypto, as the miner is called, is turned off by default, many users are still not happy with it being installed at all for a variety of reasons. These include prospective security problems, suspicions, an aversion to cryptocurrency, or environmental concerns, to name a few. There are also concerns that the miner will be difficult to uninstall.

The application mines Ethereum and sends it to a pool of Norton users. The rose-colored glasses perspective is that it makes it simple for non-crypto-aware consumers to enter the cryptocurrency ecosystem via simple-to-use software offered by a reputable software developer. Given the prevalence of the shady cryptovirus, this is understandable and, some could argue, beneficial development. (Read: Valve banning crypto, NFT games from Steam)

Norton’s cryptocurrency miner will only run if it fulfills the minimum system requirements, so if a user is on an older or underpowered machine—which there are millions of—it won’t work. So, while the miner is optional, transparent, and run by a (mostly) trustworthy software company, the positives end there.

The company charges a 15% pool fee for the miner—higher than most Ethereum pools, which charge 1 or 2 percent, plus a tiny fee for the miner’s software developer. When you factor in the cost of Ethereum transaction fees, which have been skyrocketing in recent months owing to network congestion, as well as electricity costs it’s difficult to see how a user can make much money.

The more serious issue, however, is that Norton Crypto may expose users who do not understand how crypto works. The program effectively lures people in with the promise of “free money” regardless of whether or not they’re aware of the mechanisms and issues surrounding crypto mining. Norton’s actions raise a slew of ethical, social, and economic issues and can be seen as predatory by many.

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