Cybersecurity firm NortonLifeLock is set to add an unusual add-on feature to its Norton 360 antivirus program. The firm will soon roll out a built-in cryptocurrency miner that comes with Norton 360, according to a press release via Business Wire.
The company stated that it will start to give select users in its early adopter program access to the crypto mining feature today, and it aims to make it available to all of its global customers in the coming weeks.
The new feature highlights a cybersecurity problem associated with crypto mining. Typically, users have to disable antivirus programs to run miners, as security programs are prone to block mining software — something that obviously won't be an issue with Norton's own crypto mining feature.
"We are proud to be the first consumer Cyber Safety company to offer coinminers the ability to safely and easily turn the idle time on their PCs into an opportunity to earn digital currency," said Gagan Singh, chief product officer at NortonLifeLock.
"With Norton Crypto, our customers can mine for cryptocurrency with just a few clicks, avoiding many barriers to entry in the cryptocurrency ecosystem," Singh continued.
Norton Crypto utilizes the users' GPU to mine specifically for Ethereum, and it then secures a Norton digital wallet in the cloud.
Safety for crypto miners amid environmental concerns
As Bleeping Computer points out, the current difficulty in mining Ethereum as an individual means users of the in-built feature might pool together to give them a higher chance at generating digital currency.
As pool operators typically charge a small fee, this might make the feature a clever revenue generator for the cybersecurity firm.
Cryptocurrencies have surged in recent times following Tesla's $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin. Though the company did recently make a u-turn on its decision to allow payments in the digital currency, causing its value to dive.
It was recently announced that the 27-year-old Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin had become the world's youngest billionaire based on his holdings in the digital coin.
All of this comes amid growing concerns over the environmental impact of crypto mining, with a recent report from the University of Cambridge claiming Bitcoin consumes more electricity than entire countries.
If Norton's in-built feature becomes the norm for antivirus program providers, crypto mining may have just gotten a lot safer, though that won't stop the debate over the massive global energy consumption of cryptocurrencies.