Norton has faced criticism for including a cryptocurrency mining program in its 360 security suite. While Norton has been planning to include the software, the move has drawn a lot of backlash. Norton claimed that the miner was safe and secure, but the move raised concerns about the mechanics and ethics behind it.
Norton Crypto is turned off by default, but many users simply don’t like to install it for a variety of reasons, including possible security issues, doubts, aversion to encryption, or environmental issues. There are also concerns that miners cannot be easily uninstalled. Can a malware app hijack the software and point it at the hacker’s wallet? If it happened to Norton (a security suite provider), anything is possible.
The program mines Ethereum into a pool of other Norton users. The point of the rose-colored glasses is that with easy-to-use software from trusted software developers, users who are not crypto-savvy can easily take their first steps into the crypto ecosystem. Given the proliferation of suspected crypto-malware, this is understandable, and some would say, a positive development.
Norton’s miners will only run if they meet the basic system requirements, so if you’re running an old or under-spec machine with millions of them, it won’t run at all. So while miners are optional, transparent, and run by (mostly) reputable software companies, that’s the plus side.
Norton’s miners charge a 15% pool fee, which is frankly ridiculous. Most Ethereum mining pools charge 1% or 2%, and developers of mining software also pay a small fee. That’s a far cry from Norton’s 15 percent. When you add the transaction fee cost of Ethereum, this is very high It’s hard to see how users can make a lot of profit lately due to network load. In addition to that, there are electricity bills. In some cases, users may end up losing money.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that Norton encryption exposes users who don’t understand how encryption works. Norton should be criticized for brandishing the carrot of “free money” in front of people who don’t understand their purpose or the mechanics behind crypto mining. It raises various ethical, social and economic issues. Many would view Norton’s actions as predatory.
Whatever happens, Norton will keep laughing at the bank for the 15% fraud fee, and if it starts making millions, it’s only a matter of time before other legitimate software providers follow suit. Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake didn’t come fast enough. At least then the graphics card might actually be a graphics card again, not a mining card.