CYBER SECURITY

NortonLifeLock has been criticized for its new encryption mining feature

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Although the crypto crowd appreciates this move, critics worry that environmental impact, support for currencies used for ransomware, and mining will further slow down the system.

NortonLifeLock, a company formerly known as Symantec, has opened an encrypted worm can, a new product feature that allows users to use alternate graphics chips to mine Ethereum digital currency cycles.

Although cryptocurrency supporters praised the new features announced last week, many security professionals and environmentally concerned critics questioned why security companies would add a feature that consumes a lot of energy and supports speculative digital payment systems that have become a reality The above collection mechanism profited from cybercrime.

As far as NortonLifeLock is concerned, NortonLifeLock positions the product as “a safe and reliable way to allow consumers to mine ether without exposing themselves and their devices to these traps.” [cyberattacks].”

NortonLifeLock Chief Product Officer Gagan Singh said in an email interview that from the beginning, the company will provide customers with the option of mining Etherium cryptocurrency in its early adopter program, but plans to expand the feature to all customers and more Cryptocurrency.

“Crypto mining is taking up a larger part of consumers’ digital lives, so we take steps to ensure that they have a safe and simple way to mine encryption,” he said. “We will continue to pay attention to the many innovations that have occurred in the crypto economy.”

Cryptocurrency supporters support this initiative, and the encrypted information website Cointelegraph positions this feature as “Privacy-centric technology has finally adapted to encryption.” However, some security professionals are confused.

Bruce Schnell, a well-known cryptographer, writer and researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, questioned why security companies would adopt unrelated functions.

“To me, this seems like a stupid idea, but I have never been on the train of cryptocurrency hype,” he said. “But if people want to mine cryptocurrency, it’s better than using some unintelligible unnamed software package.”

Robert Graham, another well-known cybersecurity expert, also reacted in surprise. Tweet“Is this something? Is this something?”

When asked about Norton’s new features, he criticized the security software company for trying to profit from mining cryptocurrencies.

“Consumers should not trust cybersecurity products with irrelevant functions, such as cryptocurrency,” he said. “Norton’s products seem to exploit consumers more than protect them.”

In the past few years, various cryptocurrencies have become very popular as speculators pushed the price of Bitcoin to a high of close to $60,000 in early May, pushing the price of Ethereum to more than $4,000. Since then, as of June 4th, these two cryptocurrencies have fallen back to US$37,040 and US$2,691 respectively.

However, laissez-faire cryptocurrency also allows cybercriminals to profit from various schemes ranging from ransomware to illegal drug sales. An analysis of payments for ransomware released in January found that the amount of payments quadrupled from the previous year, reaching nearly $350 million.

The Biden administration issued an anti-corruption directive on June 3, making the fight against financial crime a national priority. Last week, the U.S. Treasury Department put forward reporting requirements for cryptocurrency brokers and offshore exchanges. Last year, the Trump administration’s Department of Justice also listed cryptocurrency as a national concern, as ransomware attacks — and the demand for Bitcoin payments — almost doubled.

“Many of the core features of cryptocurrency-including decentralized operation and control, and in some cases a high degree of anonymity-present new and unique challenges to public safety, which must be addressed so that the technology is not primarily used for crime Activities,” the U.S. Department of Justice stated in its cryptocurrency enforcement framework released in October. “Indeed, despite the relatively short existence of cryptocurrency technology, it has played a role in many of the most important crimes and national security threats facing the United States.”

NortonLifeLock revealed a few details of the new mining features. In an announcement on June 2, the company stated that it would invite users in the company’s early adopter program to mine Etherium. Coin mining is a function of the public blockchain ledger. It is a symbol of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. It refers to a series of complex calculations necessary to verify and audit the proof of work required for cryptocurrency transactions. .

NortonLifeLock describes the software landscape of mining software as dangerous for its users, and describes its new features as a safe way to participate in cryptocurrency mining.

The company said in a statement: “For many years, many miners have had to take risks in their search for cryptocurrency, disable their security for mining, and allow the use of uncensored code on their machines. These codes may be stolen from their income or even released by implanting ransomware. “Income is usually stored directly on the hard drive of miners. If there is a malfunction, their digital wallet may be lost. “

NortonLifeLock also emphasized that it only provides consumers with a safe way to participate in the cryptocurrency mining market, emphasizing that cryptocurrencies have many uses besides cybercrime.

“No payment method can lead to crime,” Singh said. “Cybercriminals and scammers will use any available tools to get what they want, whether it’s credit cards, gift cards or cryptocurrencies. What’s important is that consumers can use tools such as Norton Crypto to help protect their devices, Online privacy and the identities from these scammers.”

Traditionally, mining cryptocurrency is a way in which anyone has the opportunity to collect some virtual cash by dedicating a computer or computer cluster to the task. However, as the amount of work performed by miners to complete the proof of work increases, the demand for hardware is growing rapidly. CPU-based systems give way to graphics card clusters, which have given way to data centers and application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) customized for fast mining. Cryptocurrencies have been severely criticized for relying on large computer clusters that consume a lot of energy to run their infrastructure.

For example, it is reported that the computer infrastructure supporting Etherium consumed as much energy as Iceland in 2018, which prompted the team behind the token technology standard to adopt a different and more efficient proof-of-work algorithm, which is distributed among miners. Work instead of relying on large-scale redundancy.

However, rampant speculation in the cryptocurrency market has pushed up prices and stimulated demand for mining. Norton may act as a mining pool that brings together coin miners to increase the chances of successfully winning proof-of-work tasks that reward participants’ coins. Mining pools usually divide the generated coins into several parts and allocate them according to the workload delivered by participants. Security experts say that Norton’s role may cause tensions between its roles as a security provider and cryptocurrency miner.

Technology Reporter Dan Gooding Perhaps the best summary“When you report that a company like Norton launches a service like Norton Encryption in the name of security, it’s hard not to be cynical. It should help users mine and store Ethereum safely. But it will only encourage more followers by To exacerbate the scourge of cryptocurrency.”

A senior technical reporter for more than 20 years. Former research engineer. Contributed to more than two dozen publications, including CNET News.com, Dark Reading, MIT Technology Review, Popular Science, and Wired News.Five journalism awards, including the best deadline… View full bio

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