CRYPTOCURRENCY ANTIVIRUS. Norton and Avira have decided to integrate Ethereum cryptocurrency mining software into their security solutions. A questionable practice that attracts the wrath of users.

CRYPTOCURRENCY ANTIVIRUS Norton and Avira have decided to integrate Ethereum

CRYPTOCURRENCY ANTIVIRUS. Norton and Avira have decided to integrate Ethereum cryptocurrency mining software into their security solutions. A questionable practice that attracts the wrath of users.

This is the story of a – fake? – a good idea that could turn into a fiasco and permanently damage the brand image of two of the main players in computer security. Starting with NortonLifeLock, formerly known as Symantec. The publisher, which has just bought out one of its competitors Avast, for $8.1 billion, has decided to diversify its business by offering users of its security suite “all in one” general public Norton 360, to activate, if they wish, Norton Crypto (NCrypt.exe). This mining program, (in this case, operations to create new units of account of the very popular cryptocurrency Ethereum), mobilizes the available resources of the processor and the graphics card of the PC on which it is installed. On social networks, a deafening sounding board for customer relations, this initiative has aroused a snarl from Norton 360 customers who denounce a dangerous drift, abusive practices and a fool’s market.

Norton Crypto: a fake good idea

Yet initially, and as surprising as it may seem, at NortonLifeLock the deployment of this function seemed to go without saying. Based on the principle that it can be very risky for an individual, unfamiliar with this universe, to engage in cryptocurrency mining, the publisher, capitalizing on the relationship of trust that it could have with its users, wished convince them that it would be easier (and safer) for them to mine cryptocurrency, and therefore potentially make money, with it. In practice, here’s how it works: “Norton Crypto enables customers to mine Ethereum, a popular cryptocurrency, more securely during PC downtime”, explains the editor. This practice is reminiscent, for computer enthusiasts, of the initiative SETI@Home, a distributed computing project using the idle time of computers connected to the Internet to try to detect signs of non-terrestrial intelligent life, understand extra-terrestrial. But in the case of Norton Crypto, the purpose is quite different. “Users who decide to activate Norton Crypto will operate within a pool of Norton Crypto miners, providing greater efficiency and allowing all users to share the rewards. Once earned, they can track their earnings in their Norton Crypto Wallet, which is stored in the cloud so that it cannot be lost due to hard drive failure”, continues the publisher.

© Norton

Cryptocurrency mining: an unprofitable activity

Everything would therefore go for the best in the best of all possible worlds, except that… Except that before embarking on this path, users of the Norton 360 solution would certainly be very wise to find out about what a such practice. Because if they did, they could quite easily realize that in 2022, cryptocurrency mining is no longer, far from it, a lucrative activity for an individual who only has a simple personal computer. , regardless of the power of the machine’s processor or graphics card. Worse, rightly considered to be extremely energy-intensive, cryptocurrency mining can very quickly drive up a household’s electricity bill. As a reminder, and on a completely different scale, some countries are now seeing their electricity supply compromised because of the presence (clandestine or not) on their territory of cryptocurrency mining farms (places that bring together computers and servers). Finally, for these new crypto-adventurers targeted by Norton, we must also not forget that in a country like France, gains related to mining activities are not exempt from taxation and in this case fall under non-commercial profits.

Norton Crypto: furious users

In the end, the big winner of the Norton Crypto deployment could be, unsurprisingly, NortonLifeLock. Because if the Norton Crypto initiative aims to massify, some would say to “democratize”, Ethereum cryptocurrency mining, we must not forget, as the publisher points out, that “mining fees are currently 15% of the crypto allocated to the miner”, that is to say that Norton imposes and takes 15% commissions on the cryptocurrencies recovered by mining. Finally, to be able to take full advantage of their Ethereum cryptocurrency, they can transfer it from their Norton Crypto wallet to an account opened on Coinbase, an exchange platform for buying and selling cryptocurrencies. But beware, you will also have to pay transaction fees. Beyond the small calculations related to the supposed financial profitability of the project, online, the reaction of Internet users is very strong today. Many denounce an unhealthy feature, with potentially devastating effects for the environment (especially considering the number of Norton 360 users in the world), an inappropriate mix of genres. Many Internet users who express themselves in forums and on social networks have the feeling of being imposed a program which they consider very complicated to uninstall, and which they certainly did not ask for at all. And the brand image, on which Norton intended to capitalize, could in fact be permanently altered.

Avira Crypto: the same strategy as Norton

A sign of the times, when the Norton Crypto “affair” broke out, we learned that another major security player, in this case Avira, was going to follow the same path, integrating Ethereum mining software into its anti-virus solution. Simply and logically named Avira Crypto, this new tool offers functions similar to those of Norton, with equivalent modalities and arguments. No coincidence in this apparent coincidence: like Avast now, Avira belongs to NortonLifeLock, which is thus today an essential giant in computer security, with a wide range of solutions (antivirus, VPN, etc.) on computer and mobile, often installed as standard on devices thanks to commercial agreements. Available for Avira Free Security, the free version of Avira’s antivirus, Avira Crypto is free, but its use, which fortunately remains optional, is also subject to fees, like Norton Crypto. However, this feature is currently only available in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. But everything suggests that Avira will offer its mining software in other countries such as France. And that Avast will follow the same path. It remains to be seen whether this new tool will fuel the controversy generated by the curious strategy of NortonLifeLock, which could quickly lead users to other security solutions.

© Avira