Norton antivirus will now let its users turn their computers into crypto miners.
The feature will sit alongside the more traditional tools – like those that aim to keep malware off a computer – and instead allow users to instruct their computer to put itself to work creating new cryptocurrency.
Crypto miners undertake complex and largely pointless calculations that are required to keep the system of cryptocurrency running. In return, those miners are occasionally rewarded with new currency – meaning there is a financial incentive to mine as much as possible.
For the most part, that has been done in devoted mines, where vast sets of processors are strung together to do the calculations as quickly as possible. If individuals want to get involved, they often have to disable their security features and run code that might be unsafe, and could steal their money, as well as storing earnings in other people’s systems.
Mining has mostly crossed over with malware because attackers sometimes plant malware in people’s computers that will hijack them and use them for mining, so that cyber criminals can generate money using someone else’s processor and energy.
But the new Norton feature will reverse that relationship, letting users put their computers to work mining cryptocurrency for themselves. Switching on the feature will start it mining ethereum, and users can deposit any money they generate into their Coinbase accounts, Norton said.
The company said that would be a useful way to keep their computer working even when they didn’t need it – though it will of course use additional energy.
“We are proud to be the first consumer Cyber Safety company to offer coinminers the ability to safely and easily turn the idle time on their PCs into an opportunity to earn digital currency,” said Gagan Singh, chief product officer at NortonLifeLock, in a statement.
“With Norton Crypto, our customers can mine for cryptocurrency with just a few clicks, avoiding many barriers to entry in the cryptocurrency ecosystem.”