NortonLifeLock isn’t the only antivirus brand that installs an opt-in cryptocurrency mining tool on customer computers. Avira does it, too.
The function is called “Avira Crypto,” and it’s an extension of Norton’s own Ethereum mining tool. That’s because NortonLifeLock acquired Avira in 2020 for $360 million.
On Saturday, security journalist Brian Krebs wrote about Avira Crypto as a growing number of consumers question why NortonLifeLock bundles a cryptocurrency miner with its antivirus program. To critics, the miner is both bloatware and annoyingly difficult to completely uninstall.
However, NortonLifeLock defends the feature as a tool that makes cryptocurrency mining easy for anyone. It publicly announced the feature in June 2021, and Avira did the same in October. It’s opt-in and as NortonLifeLock points out, the cryptocurrency mining can only take place if an AMD or Nvidia graphics card with at least 6GB of video memory is present.
“Avira Crypto is an opt-in feature only and is not enabled without user permission,” according to Avira’s website. “If users have turned on Avira Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be disabled through the Avira product user interface.”
A spokesperson for NortonLifeLock added that both mining tools share the same technology. Norton and Avira also take a 15% cut of the Ethereum generated.
Avira’s cryptocurrency mining tool seems to have largely avoided complaints from users since its introduction. You can find it on Avira Free Security, Avira Antivirus Pro, Avira Internet Security, and Avira Prime for users in the US, UK, and Canada.
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However, we installed Avira Free Security on a Windows laptop with no dedicated AMD or Nvidia graphics card, and never saw an option to mine Ethereum. So not every Avira user may encounter the mining tool.
NortonLifeLock also recently acquired Avast, so don’t be surprised if cryptocurrency mining tools pop up in other antivirus products, too.
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