Norton spent years blocking crypto miners — now it mines Ethereum

Norton is readying to let users mine Ethereum directly from their antivirus programs.

Norton says it will help users earn Ethereum after the antivirus mainstay adds crypto mining to its uber-popular 360 software in the next few weeks.

In a Wednesday press release, NortonLifeLock (formerly Symantec) announced Norton Crypto — a way for the antivirus’ reported 13 million users to “safely and easily turn the idle time on their PCs into an opportunity to earn digital currency.”

NortonLifeLock hopes the new software — soon standard with the company’s 360 package — will open doors for would-be crypto miners wary of the oft-risky and complex routes to mining crypto.

Crypto mining usually involves disabling virus protection, exposing machines to cyberattacks.

However, NortonLifeLock says that’s no longer a problem as the new safety-first Crypto package will let users mine Ethereum in “just a few clicks.”

This is what Norton Crypto will look like (source).

One of Norton Crypto’s more intriguing features noted in the press release is a cloud-based wallet.

The company says it designed the wallet to keep any crypto mined safe from potential hard drive snafus, as private keys are usually stored locally.

This, of course, means Norton Crypto users must trust the company to keep their funds safe (remember: not your keys, not your crypto!).

Norton Crypto will also feature a button to let miners siphon Ethereum they generate straight to crypto exchange Coinbase, a spokesperson said to The Verge.

Just how much Ethereum the software will generate isn’t yet clear. Those figures will be determined once the company actually rolls out the product, and will differ depending on the machine.

NortonLifeLock told CNN the company is “considering adding reputable cryptocurrencies [sic] in the near future.”

Won’t Norton please think of the children environment?

Norton Crypto bills itself as convenient and secure. But not everybody is sure bundling a crypto miner with anti-virus software is a good idea.

Ethereum utilizes a Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm similar to Bitcoin’s, which consumes electricity to generate new coins.

The Verge pointed out that a successful Norton Crypto would potentially add thousands of new crypto miners to that equation, increasing the net energy consumption of the network.

BleepingComputer also raised a valid point regarding tax implications for Norton 360 users (are they aware they need to declare their potential crypto earnings?).

[Read more: Kraken hit with IRS move that cracked Swiss bank secrets in 2008]

Of course, there’s also Norton’s famous performance issues.

Some are worried that Norton’s antivirus software already slows down computers just by doing its day job. Things could get worse after throwing Ethereum mining into the mix.

In any case, we should know more as Norton Crypto becomes available to select members of its early adopter program this week.

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