Users claim that Norton 360 antivirus installs a crypto miner on PCs

Jan 5, 2022
Crypto & Blockchain

Investment in crypto-assets is unregulated, may not be suitable for retail investors and the entire amount invested may be lost. It is important to read and understand the risks of this investment, which are explained in detail here.

Over the past month or so, we have seen a rise of bloatware added to Microsoft Edge. If you thought that was bad, wait till you hear this. Norton 360 is installing a crypto miner on users computers, it's called Norton Crypto.

Are you wondering how an antivirus vendor can resort to such shady measures. Isn't the product supposed to prevent such potentially unwanted programs from being installed, and running on the computer? Well, it's all legal, and well documented too. It was first announced last year, here's an FAQ page on Norton's website that explains how Norton Crypto works.

The cyber-security firm terms Norton Crypto a "feature", which will utilize your PC to mine cryptocurrency when Norton 360 detects that the system is idle. The settings will be managed by Norton.

Norton Crypto is available on all plans. The currency that the software mines is Ethereum, and Norton creates a digital wallet for each user before it starts mining. The documentation states that the digital key for the wallet is only available to the user, is encrypted and stored in the cloud. Users can transfer their digital wallets contents to Coinbase, to make withdrawals.

The company is looking to add more currencies in the future. And it gets worse, this crypto mining feature is not free either. Norton will charge users 15% of the crypto that was allocated to the miner (user). The transfer of the cryptocurrency (to Coinbase) between the blockchain networks could also result in additional transaction fees. Great, you don't even get the full amount that you are owed.

Does it affect your computer? If it meets the system requirements, there is a possibility. Here are the details, for reference.

Norton Crypto system requirements

  • Graphics card - Nvidia cards with minimum 6 GB memory
  • Processor - 1 GHz
  • RAM - 2 GB (minimum of 512 MB RAM required for Recovery Tool)
  • Hard disk space - 300 MB of available hard disk space
  • Operating System: Windows 7 SP1 and later, Windows 8 and Windows 10

The RAM, Hard Drive and Processor requirements are quite low, but the graphics card requirement is kind of high. So, theoretically, this shouldn't impact the majority of users, but if you have a 6GB graphics card, it is likely going to be mining cryptocurrency.

Norton says that Norton Crypto is currently only available in the US, and that this is a throttled release (A/B testing).

Is Norton Crypto enabled by default?

The official website states that Norton Crypto is not enabled by default, but some users claim otherwise and that the new version is installing the crypto miner without the user's consent.  According to this thread on Twitter, the antivirus installs a miner called NCrypt.exe. Some users have suggested that it can be deleted from the software's directory after disabling the Tamper Protection from the antivirus' settings. Here's another interesting discussion about it on HackerNews.

Other antivirus programs seem to be detecting the file as malware, which is fair, in my opinion.

How can I tell if my computer is mining cryptocurrency?

Open the Windows Task Manager, if the system's CPU or memory usage is at 100% while there are no programs running, it is likely being used to mine cryptocurrency. Certain websites use your browser for mining cryptocurrency as well, you may notice it when your computer begins to lag. If you ever run into such sites, stop, install uBlock Origin and try again.  Do yourself a favor, and switch to a better antivirus. For the price of free, Windows Defender does an incredible job, while not slowing down your computer. This is, of course, my personal opinion, so do what you will.

When the NortonLifeLock and Avast Merger was announced, I thought this sounds bad, but I certainly did not expect this. To quote Harvey Dent, from The Dark Knight, "You either die a hero or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain".  Norton, you are the virus now!

Are you using Norton 360? Has your computer's performance been impacted by Norton Crypto? Will you continue using it after reading about this fiasco?

Article Name
Is Norton 360 antivirus installing a crypto miner on PCs?
Users are reporting that the latest version of Norton 360 antivirus installs a crypto miner on their computers.
Ghacks Technology News

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  1. wow-WOW said on May 26, 2022 at 9:35 am

    Shameless highway robbery disguised as some utter crap, Norton should pay users 15% ontop to cover electricity bills.

    Now you, do you use bullshit security solutions?

    No. Ef them hard up the rectum.

  2. Anonymous said on January 11, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    hva med kaspersky ?

  3. Robbie said on January 8, 2022 at 7:10 pm

    The only trusted av software I have ever used for over 15 years is ESET NOD32 antivirus. No bloat or shady stuff, hardly ever notice it. I think all the free ones are data mining.

  4. Anonymous said on January 7, 2022 at 4:36 pm

    Yeah it’s a feature now and it’s comparable to most miners that use the eth hash. It’s literally just an option you can turn on or off. If you don’t mind letting make a wallet for you it’s not bad. Plus you don’t have to worry about getting miners that’s are bugged or traps. Norton is a great bit of software imho.

  5. Pet said on January 7, 2022 at 2:28 pm

    Rubbish news. Whoever feels threated by this is simply an idiot. Why such “news” are published here anyway? I wonder why y keep spreading the FUD.

  6. mort-one_pc_dead said on January 7, 2022 at 9:45 am

    If dumb enough to use mort-one software U deserve this…

  7. Dirgster said on January 6, 2022 at 11:14 pm

    I have been using Norton 360 for many years now, am familiar with their program, have always liked it, and use their Password Manager. For some time now, Norton, by using popups, is pushing all kinds of other protection programs to encourage customers to sign up and pay more, of course, and I find that bothersome. I’m truly thinking about switching to a different virus protection program after my subscription with Norton is running out.

  8. Frank Farmer said on January 6, 2022 at 6:42 pm

    Ashwin, the most “valuable resource currency” is not something needing to be mined. It’s you.

  9. Rusty said on January 6, 2022 at 2:21 pm

    Windows Defender does a pretty decent job these days, is totally free, and doesn’t cause issues with windows since it’s made by the same company. The fact that it’s on every copy of windows 10 is also a reason for software developers to make sure there are no conflicts.

    I use to pay for anti-virus software up until a few years ago. I honestly don’t think it’s necessary at this point (unless you have a specific situation where you really need the extra security).

    Margaret Bytes Anti-Malware is also another free on- demand scanner that can supplement windows defender, without any added cost.

    Paying for anti-virus software is becoming a thing of the past, as it should be.

    1. Rusty said on January 6, 2022 at 2:23 pm

      I meant “Malware Bytes” not Margaret bytes, but that was a bit funny :)

  10. David Bergeron said on January 6, 2022 at 1:27 pm

    Norton/Symantec has always been a virus. What’s new?

  11. Mystique said on January 6, 2022 at 11:33 am

    Nothing to see here, Symantec just living up to its reputation. Tell your family members to uninstall this worthless software and move on to something better. It will save you loads of time down the road on those free tech coupons family members tend to cash in on when they make poor decisions such as this.

  12. Horton Heat said on January 6, 2022 at 9:07 am

    Has the Norton Removal Tool been updated to get rid of this as well or is a complete reinstall of the OS the best way to go? That’s the only information we need.

  13. Anonymous said on January 6, 2022 at 9:06 am

    “Users claim that Norton 360 antivirus installs a crypto miner on PCs”
    “Is Norton 360 antivirus installing a crypto miner on PCs?”

    It is proven beyond doubt, why the softball titles?

  14. Graham said on January 6, 2022 at 5:11 am

    Norton was my first antivirus software in the 90s. It was terrible and I hated it, and I never used it again in any future Windows versions.

    I’m amazed they managed to sink even lower since the time I used them roughly 25 years ago.

  15. Anonymous said on January 6, 2022 at 1:07 am

    I use a browser protection from Avast, now owned by Norton.

    Is this a risk of the mentioned mining-misuse?

    Can anybody advice another browser protection which can be trusted?

    1. ShintoPlasm said on January 6, 2022 at 10:16 am

      Avast is *not* owned by NortonLifeLock, though you shouldn’t be using their stuff anyway due to significant privacy concerns.

      The antivirus company recently purchased by NortonLL is the German-based Avira.

    2. Greta Titberg said on January 6, 2022 at 9:05 am

      To be supersafe, you must install both Norton and Avast AV’s! Your computer will thank you by warming your house in these cold winter times.

  16. Tony said on January 5, 2022 at 10:11 pm

    Windows 10 = Adware, Spyware
    Norton AV = Spyware, Crypto Miner

    …two peas in a pod.

  17. Richard said on January 5, 2022 at 9:10 pm

    Nothing gets installed .. it’s a module that you the user can turn on or turn off
    It doesn’t just run on its own and never well.
    If you are going to report on something .. maybe install the program and investigate it yourself instead of publishing nonsense articles based on nonsense 3rd party info.

    And to the person that said China has banned crypto … Far far from it .. they have their own government backed coin .. they are just restricting bitcoin mining so they get more interest in their own coin.

    1. John said on January 8, 2022 at 8:13 pm

      Finally a factual accurate comment! A friend of mine owns a snack engineering firm. About 20 employees. The owner mines crypto on the computers after hours when the employees go home. Over $15K in earnings last year from gpu mining. I monitored electricity usage for them using an analyzer.. less than $2k so it was super profitable.
      Having a more trustable source for their mining sw will be a big win.

  18. Anonymous said on January 5, 2022 at 8:39 pm

    Yes forbidden technology! Be scared! But if someone says it will pay for the subscription to Norton, well they must be insane! Is the earth flat or did some new tech or idea help humanity understand and grow?”

  19. Anonymous said on January 5, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    If you use your computer at home, surely the cost of electricity will be much higher than the value of any crypto mined. And if you mine at work it could be called misuse of company resources, similar to theft and get you fired.

  20. Utopia Now said on January 5, 2022 at 5:55 pm

    2022 when the OS is adware and the AV is malware. How low can they go… I think the next step is for Microsoft to become ransomware, if you decide to delete your Microsoft account you will lose all your personal files.

  21. ULBoom said on January 5, 2022 at 5:41 pm

    If you’re using anything Norton to mine crypto you clearly haven’t a clue what you’re doing. This is really stupid!

    We just got a foot of snow, time to clear the driveway with my trusty cake spatula. Ha Ha Ha

    Big Tech’s gonna get worse and worse and worse.

  22. Tom Hawack said on January 5, 2022 at 4:47 pm

    IMO the very concept of crypto currencies is insane. Insane, not evil (though the correlation is arguable), hence anyone, any company which deploys itself in the perimeter of legality and conceives no bypass of morality and sanity in the fact of diving in the universe of virtual goods will be unable to understand the deep mistake of crypto currencies and will carry on free of any barrier. Apparently this is Norton’s state of mind. I use none of the company’s software and should I have ever wondered if I should, the answer is clearly no.

    China id blocking the crypto madness and they’re damned right. Let us just wait and see (without hoping of course) the damage which will inevitably arise from the use of crypto currencies. Totally insane.

  23. Anonymous said on January 5, 2022 at 4:08 pm

    Nope not 1st April.

    Truly bizarre thing for Norton to do.

    At least it will enable another module to be added to ‘Consumer marketing’ courses….how to lose Customer confidence 101.

  24. Jony said on January 5, 2022 at 3:43 pm

    the that more of give me fear is that is all in the contract that peoples don’t read

  25. common sense computing said on January 5, 2022 at 3:01 pm

    The call is coming from inside the house. Same with Windows “security” updates forcibly bundled with other garbage or used as an excuse to strip privacy and control.

    1. common sense computing said on January 9, 2022 at 9:09 pm

      Keep licking those boots and fighting privacy with stupidity and fallacies, your corporate masters will never reward you.

    2. common sense computing said on January 5, 2022 at 6:58 pm

      The bootlicker often starts by attacking the concept that one can be private on the internet. This is a lie, as privacy is a process and not an on-off switch. It’s always worth increasing your privacy.

      The bootlicker next stuffs a strawman proclaiming their target as ignorant of how to lock down and harden a Windows install. Again, a ridiculous lie.

      These things are sick in the head and want everyone to give up and register Microsoft accounts, give them every scrap of personal information, and sign up and pay for every single Microsoft service. They are sick and deranged, and anyone who cares about privacy shouldn’t be dragged down with them.

      1. Tim said on January 7, 2022 at 3:43 am

        Clearly you don’t have much of an argument to make, if the best you can come up with is “bootlicker” or “mentally diseased”.

        If you want to sit at the grownups table, start by learning how to present your case like one.

    3. common sense computing said on January 5, 2022 at 6:49 pm

      Mentally diseased, delusional, strawman stuffing Microsoft bootlickers spotted.

      In the world of big tech, “security” is a dirty word to steal the privacy, security, and control of users. GAFAM (including Microsoft) and Norton are hardly different.

    4. Bantanaman said on January 5, 2022 at 4:29 pm

      @common sense computing
      LOL maybe you should show us with a doll where windows touched you.

      If you really used your common sense, you would understand you have no privacy and less if you are using internet.
      You can’t disable most things in Windows, maybe you don’t know how to use a computer, but yeah, even Defender and all security Windows stuff can be disabled.
      Control? control of what? They develop the Operating System so they do whatever they want like other companies and linux fork maintainers. But Windows haven’t stopped me from launching my programs which is what I care about. It is like when people complained about UAC, like if you couldn’t disable that from settings and didn’t even need any “hacks”.

      Maybe you are not good with technology or you like to cry so much and talk about Windows in a ghacks article that has nothing to do with it, and like if only Microsoft updated their software to bring changes people don’t like.

      Common sense? more like “just another ignorant on the internet who thinks he is a know it all” because you lack common sense and the knowledge so maybe stop complaining about Windows.

    5. Geo said on January 5, 2022 at 4:19 pm

      Oh come on you cannot possibly be equating a cryptominer to a windows security update as if they’re the same level of malware.

  26. Anonymous said on January 5, 2022 at 2:30 pm

    Etherium mining is done on the GPU, not the CPU. Checking CPU usage is not useful. Memory usage may be a useful indicator as the teamred miner takes about 700MB of ram on my system when mining. Of course, easiest way to tell would be if your GPU’s fans are spinning up. Many modern GPUs turn the fans off completely at idle.

    1. Anonymous said on January 30, 2022 at 10:58 pm

      Yep. I had to enable a hidden nvidia task tracker setting to even see what was using the GPU as windows didn’t report the GPU as being in use. I haven’t been this mad in a long long time as this crypto miner was destroying my mom’s laptop.

  27. John G. said on January 5, 2022 at 1:42 pm

    Amazing, really amazing! Thanks @Aswin! :[

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