In November, Google released a new report stating that malicious cryptocurrency miners were using hacked Google Cloud accounts for mining purposes. Now, it seems antivirus software Norton 360 has found a legal way to mine crypto using customers' computers, as first reported by Krebs on Security.
Although the activity is legal, it does not mean it is not highly suspicious.
"Norton Crypto is a feature made available in Norton 360 which you can utilize for mining cryptocurrency when your PC is idle. Currently, Norton Crypto is limited to users with devices that meet the required system requirements," states the firm's FAQ page.
Norton keeps 15 percent of any currencies mined but claims that the cloud-based service that activates the program is “opt-in" only which means customers have to agree to have it enabled. However, many Norton users have stated that the mining program is difficult to remove meaning it is not as kosher as Norton would have us believe.
On its website, Norton tries to make it clear that it won't run the program without permission. "If you have turned on Norton Crypto, but you no longer want to use the feature, you can disable it through your Norton Crypto dashboard," states the company.
But since the firm makes it difficult to disable, Norton Crypto can continue its energy-intensive activity making loads of profit for the firm at the users' expense.
Norton Crypto will mine the Ethereum cryptocurrency. “Norton creates a secure digital Ethereum wallet for each user,” the FAQ states. “The key to the wallet is encrypted and stored securely in the cloud. Only you have access to the wallet.”
The firm also states the controversial program will only run on systems that meet certain hardware and software requirements. The program is already seeing backlash both from customers and media with the co-editor of Boing Boing Cory Doctorow calling the system "f****** wild."
Will the complaints and public scrutiny be enough to put an end to this madness?