Popular antivirus maker force-installs cryptominer on devices

NortonLifeLock appears to be living up to its name

The anti-virus giant Norton is facing a barrage of online criticism for automatically installing the Ethereum crafter on users’ devices, which has turned out to be pretty useless and also really difficult to uninstall.

Norton has come under fire after several users expressed their annoyance on Twitter and Reddit at how difficult it is to rid their system of the bundled tool called Norton Crypto.

Their concerns were rapidly echoed by other users, who claim the feature costs customers more in electricity use than they make on the mining, yet allows the developer to make a ton of profit.

An experiment carried out by media outlet The Verge confirmed this, showing that a night of mining netted $0.66-worth of Ethereum but cost $0.66 in off-peak electricity.

The claims that the antivirus developer “sneakily installs cryptomining software” in computers and skims a commission on profits were soon disseminated by technology-focused media outlets, including PCMag, Krebs on Security, and Digital Trends.

Commenting on the backlash, a spokesperson for NortonLifeLock told The Verge that users can completely remove Norton Crypto by temporarily turning off Norton’s tamper protection feature and then deleting the executable file.

The new cloud-based feature was launched in July 2021 to allow users to maintain a private cryptocurrency wallet and take away 85% of what their devices mine, with Norton earning a 15% commission. Back then, NortonLifeLock said it was opt-in-only and had to be enabled.

According to the system requirements, the crypto-mining option can be activated an Nvidia or AMD cards with at least 6GB of memory. The process reportedly runs via a mining pool that combines every user’s computing power to increase the chances of mining a block. Thus, those contributing power get a share of the reward, from which Norton takes its cut.

However, even pooled power and cheaper electricity can’t turn the everyday user into a crypto-millionaire, it seems, as the process of withdrawing one’s earnings from a Norton wallet, minus Norton’s commission, is not that easy. The only way to use the mined crypto or exchange it for fiat currency is to transfer it to a Coinbase account, and that, in turn, incurs a transaction fee charged by the Ethereum network.

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