NortonLifeLock is shutting down a cryptocurrency miner that runs on its antivirus product.
The company is citing Ethereum’s switch to a “Proof-of-Stake” model, which will phase out GPU-based mining for the cryptocurrency. The coming transition, also known as the Merge, is slated to occur as soon as Thursday, Sept. 15.
“As a result of the upcoming Ethereum Merge(Opens in a new window) changing how Ether can be mined, GPU mining will no longer be possible, which is why Norton/Avira Crypto mining will be disabled on our platform on September 14 at 9 am EST,” a company spokesperson told PCMag.
The spokesperson added: “Customers who mined with us can continue to access any balance they have earned mining with Norton/Avira Crypto through their Wallet, and they can withdraw it to their Coinbase account at any time. While mining will no longer be possible, the Wallet will continue to be supported.”
The company introduced the mining function for its Norton360 product a year ago to help its customers capitalize on the then-soaring cryptocurrency market. NortonLifeLock also claimed the miner served a security purpose, pointing to how many users had been downloading unvetted and potentially malicious crypto-mining programs to their PCs.
The mining function tapped into a PC’s discrete graphics to generate the Ethereum. In return, NortonLifeLock charged a fee for the mining. The company also brought the same mining function to Avira’s own antivirus tools, which NortonLifeLock acquired in 2020.
However, the decision to offer the miner over the antivirus programs received some backlash from consumers and security experts over concerns the company was saddling users with non-removable bloatware. In its defense, NortonLifeLock said the mining tool was opt-in only.
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The company is now disabling the miner, but the shutdown may be temporary. A company spokesperson said NortonLifeLock is “looking into” expanding mining to another cryptocurrency.
“We are always evaluating new technology and innovation. We are listening to our customers about their interests and needs for future offerings,” the spokesperson added.
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