According to Norton, the new feature will provide customers with a safe and simple way to mine cryptocurrency, without having to rely on workarounds that compromise device security.
At launch, the tool will only allow users to mine Ether, the cryptocurrency of the Ethereum network and the world’s second largest coin. However, Norton told CNN it may allow users to mine other “reputable cryptocurrencies” in future.
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Any earnings will be funnelled into a cloud-based wallet, or hot wallet, called the Norton Crypto Wallet. From here, users will presumably be able to trigger transactions and receive payments.
“As the crypto economy continues to become a more important part of our customers’ lives, we want to empower them to mine cryptocurrency with Norton, a brand they trust,” said Vincent Pilette, CEO at NortonLifeLock.
“Norton Crypto is yet another innovative example of how we are expanding our Cyber Safety platform to protect our customers’ ever-evolving digital lives.”
The crypto mining feature will go live for a select few users today and is expected to roll out far and wide in the coming weeks.
Norton crypto miner: Is it a good idea?
While Norton is right to suggest that people have often been forced to disable antivirus solutions on their devices in order to run crypto mining software, the decision to integrate a mining feature into Norton 360 has raised a few eyebrows.
Some commentators have pointed to the fact that antivirus vendors, like Norton, are part of the problem in the first place, forcing miners to compromise on security in order to participate.
There has also been plenty of noise over the last few months surrounding the environmental impact of crypto mining, although the transition of the Ethereum network to a proof-of-stake model is expected to back cut energy consumption dramatically.
Questions could also be asked about whether it is sensible to be encouraging individuals into the crypto mining space, which for many years has been profitable only for large-scale syndicates.
For an individual mining Ether on a run-of-the-mill PC, the cost of energy usage is likely to far exceed the value of any crypto earned - and that’s ignoring the additional risks associated with crypto volatility.
The sum of all these factors is enough to cast a shadow over the new integrated mining tool. Although opportunism isn’t a negative quality in and of itself, Norton may come to regret this particular land grab.
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Joel Khalili is the News and Features Editor at TechRadar Pro, covering cybersecurity, data privacy, cloud, AI, blockchain, internet infrastructure, 5G, data storage and computing. He's responsible for curating our news content, as well as commissioning and producing features on the technologies that are transforming the way the world does business.