NortonLifeLock, most known for its anti-virus software, has announced a slightly leftfield move with its latest product – crypto mining.
It promises that users of the Norton 360 platform will be able to easily, and safely, mine for cryptocurrency with just a few clicks, as well as store any mined crypto in a dedicated wallet.
Mining for cryptocurrency can be a lucrative business, when done at scale, but for personal users, this could be an easy way to earn a few dollars on the side.
What is Norton Crypto?
Norton Crypto is the newest feature to be added to the company's Norton 360 range of security products, available to customers in the early adoption program as of today. In a press release, NortonLifeLock stated that it was looking to circumvent the security issues traditionally associated with mining crypto, usually thanks to needing to run potentially unvetted code.
“As the crypto economy continues to become a more important part of our customers’ lives, we want to empower them to mine cryptocurrency with Norton, a brand they trust.” – Vincent Pilette, CEO of NortonLifeLock
Norton Crypto is designed to mine Ethereum, easily the second most well known cryptocurrency after Bitcoin. It's not quite as valuable as the mighty Bitcoin either, which at the time of writing is hovering at around $40,000 per coin. However, with Ethereum currently worth around $2,500, it's certainly nothing to turn your nose up at.
A dedicated user interface for the miner will let users control mining directly, show the current amount mined, as well as the real-time market value. NortonLifeLock is also providing a cloud-based wallet to store your gains in, to prevent loss through your PC failing.
Those not in the early access program can expect to see the new feature in the coming weeks.
Will I Get Rich Mining with Norton Crypto?
Before you start flicking through that yacht catalog, there's a few things to know about mining cryptocurrency. Yes, it's true that it has made some people very, very rich, but inevitably these have been early adopters who purchased the currencies before most of us were even aware of them, only to see the value rise as the world woke up to the concept.
One thing to note is that mining is very hardware intensive. If you want to have any decent attempt at mining, you'll need a high end rig. It's the main reason why gamers, who need powerful machines to run the latest games, have been struggling to pick up graphics cards at a fair price. Even the second hand market has exploded. In fact, it's become so serious that some manufactures are making dedicated GPUs for mining, such as the Nvidia CMP.
Then there's the power issue. Traditionally, crypto mining uses a lot of energy, so much that the gains you make could well be undermined by your monthly utility bill. It's recently become the target of criticism from eco activists, and a recent study revealed that Bitcoin alone uses more electricity annually than the whole of Argentina.
These two issues could be solved by Ethereum 2.0. The next stage for the currency, as outlined on its official blog, is a radically more power efficient way of sourcing Ethereum, costing 99.95% less energy. The move to this new ‘proof of stake' mechanism also means, according to some pundits, the network will no longer be mineable.
Mining crypto is a slow process, and while Norton has simplified the process and made it safer, it'll be a while before you're Musk-level rich, if you can even mine at all within the next few months.
Do I Even Need Anti-Virus in 2021?
Crypto mining aside, there are many, many benefits to having anti-virus software. In fact, the pandemic has given many of us more reason than ever to ensure that our devices are protected, with the rise in homeworking seeing hacking and ransomware attacks increase rapidly.
Anti-virus software can protect from these large scale attacks, as well as smaller ones, such as unwittingly plugging in a USB drive with a virus, or accidently opening a convincing scam email. With the right software, you'll be able to isolate such viruses and remove them from your computer before they do any damage, automatically.
Other useful tools to consider are password managers, which can remove the stress of having to remember multiple passwords, as well as alerting you when yours have been comprised. It's also worth considering a VPN, which for a monthly cost of a few bucks can hide your identify online, reducing the risk of personal data being stolen.