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Norton antivirus adds Ethereum cryptocurrency mining.

In a surprise move, one of the most well-known anti-virus software companies in the world is now include cryptocurrencies in its offerings.

Customers of Norton 360 will be able to use an Ethereum mining tool in the "coming weeks," according to the company.

Cryptocurrency "mine" involves performing difficult calculations on a computer's hardware in exchange for a payout.

It's unclear what Norton Crypto's business plan is or whether Norton will take a portion of the profits.

The company marketed the notion as a safe and simple way for people to get into mining, which it described as a "essential part of our clients' life."

"For years, many coin miners have had to take risks in their drive for cryptocurrencies, deactivating their security in order to run coin mining," Norton LifeLock - formerly known as Symantec - said in a news release.

That is true in the sense that anti-virus software packages such as Norton's routinely misidentify commonly used mining applications as hazardous, requiring the antivirus software to be deactivated in order to continue mining.

Norton also warns against "letting unvetted programmes on their devices" as well as the risk of putting earnings on a failing hard disc.

Most serious miners, on the other hand, rely on a small number of well-respected mining apps (some of which are little more than simple command-line scripts) and a web-based or smartphone-based digital wallet.

Pooling millions

Mining Ethereum as a solo miner is extremely difficult, requiring a lot of luck and sophisticated computational hardware.

According to screenshots provided by Norton, the system will instead use a "pool," in which a large number of miners pool their computer resources and split the reward based on how much work their machines completed.

However, such pools almost generally take a cut, with a 1.0% cut of all revenues being the industry standard.

                                                            

Norton will be able to generate a new revenue stream by utilising the PCs of its millions of customers if it pursues this plan.

Furthermore, the procedure consumes a lot of energy, which could result in increased energy bills for unwitting consumers.

In addition to Ethereum, the company informed CNN that it was exploring adding more cryptocurrencies in the future.

Among technology enthusiasts, the move has been welcomed with considerable scepticism.

Cryptocurrency revenue is taxable, reportable income in the United States, where Norton has a large client base, according to security site BleepingComputer, which casual miners using antivirus software may not be aware of.

The Verge, a technology news site, pointed out that Norton is frequently pre-installed on many laptops, providing free service for a limited time before requiring a subscription.

"It's easy to envisage a firm, not necessarily Norton, offering cheaper or even free laptops if you just transform your unused processing cycles into a recurrent source of profit for the bloatware creators subsidising your purchase," it wrote.

"Norton might be opening a hard to close door here."

"We're ecstatic to be the first consumer cyber-safety firm to provide coin miners the chance to safely & quickly turn the idle time on their PC's into a chance to earn digital money," Norton product executive Gagan Singh said in a statement.

"With just a few clicks, our customers can mine for cryptocurrency, bypassing many of the cryptocurrency ecosystem's barriers to entry."

The product is now available to members of the company's early adopter programme, but it will be rolled out more widely in the coming weeks, according to the company.

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