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Is Norton 360 Mining Ethereum In Your Computer? If It Is, They’ll Take a 15% Cut

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The most popular antivirus, Norton 360, made a miner out of everyone. Even though this has been going on for a while, the Internet recently found out about it. And traditional Norton customers are livid. One of the most controversial parts of the story is the 15% cut that the company takes. This is a commercial program that you have to pay for, so it’s only logical that people are not ok with that.

Related Reading | Research: Crypto Mining Malware Still Abundant Despite Market Decline

Of course, Norton’s Ethereum mining program is nothing new. Seven months ago, when they were testing it out, our sister site Bitcoinist reported on it and said:

“A select number of Norton 360 customers, who joined the early adopter program, received their invites to mine Ethereum today. The program is expected to expand to include all 13 million Norton customers in the coming months.

In explaining the odd pairing, the firm said cryptocurrency mining is fraught with risk and often involves disabling security and allowing “unvetted code”. This leaves miners vulnerable to skimmed earnings and ransomware. Norton claims to address these issues by enabling users to safely and easily mine cryptocurrency through the user-friendly Norton 360 platform.”

Ok, so it’s for your own good. How could you doubt the fine folks at Norton?

The Internet Discovers The Existence Of Norton ’s Ethereum Program

The mining program went viral when Boing Boing editor Cory Doctorow tweeted, “Norton “Antivirus” now sneakily installs cryptomining software on your computer, and then SKIMS A COMMISSION.”

Security expert and journalist Brian Krebs took a look at the case and here’s what he came up with:

“According to the FAQ posted on its site, “Norton Crypto” will mine Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency while the customer’s computer is idle. The FAQ also says Norton Crypto will only run on systems that meet certain hardware and software requirements (such as an NVIDIA graphics card with at least 6 GB of memory).”

That doesn’t sound that bad. Plus, “NortonLifeLock says Norton Crypto is an opt-in feature only and is not enabled without user permission.” Ok, but, is the “accept” button checked from the get-go? And, why can’t people uninstall the program then? In a written statement, NortonLifeLock responded: 

“If users have turned on Norton Crypto but no longer wish to use the feature, it can be disabled by temporarily shutting off ‘tamper protection’ (which allows users to modify the Norton installation) and deleting NCrypt.exe from your computer.”

ETH price chart for 01/08/2021 on FTX | Source: ETH/USD on TradingView.com

What Was The Public’s Response To The Fact That They Are Ethereum Miners?

According to Krebs, “longtime Norton customers were horrified at the prospect of their antivirus product installing coin-mining software, regardless of whether the mining service was turned off by default”. This is what the program should protect them from. And they don’t know that this is for their own good and they should trust the Norton corporation blindly. 

On the other hand, the ones that were ok with it and wanted to collect their ETH faced another hurdle. Gas fees. If that fact is hard to navigate for experienced Ethereum users, imagine what it was for novices that weren’t even aware of their new profession as Ethereum miners. To help with visualization, just read the Norton FAQ’s explanation:

“Transfers of cryptocurrencies may result in transaction fees (also known as “gas” fees) paid to the users of the cryptocurrency blockchain network who process the transaction. In addition, if you choose to exchange crypto for another currency, you may be required to pay fees to an exchange facilitating the transaction. Transaction fees fluctuate due to cryptocurrency market conditions and other factors. These fees are not set by Norton.”

Even though what they’re saying is correct, how would a civilian react to the past year’s ridiculous Ethereum gas fees?

Summary And Conclusion, The Norton Situation

For a quick assessment of the situation, we turn to resistance.money’s Bradley Rettler, who tweeted. “What?! Norton antivirus now mines Ethereum *by default*. The “accept” button is checked automatically and once installed it’s very difficult to remove. And they take 15% of what you mine!”

Yeah, that’s about it. For the implications, we go back to security expert Brian Krebs:

“I guess what bothers me most about Norton Crypto is that it will be introducing millions of perhaps less savvy Internet users to the world of cryptocurrency, which comes with its own set of unique security and privacy challenges that require users to “level up” their personal security practices in fairly significant ways.”

Related Reading | Powerbridge Technologies Set To Launch Bitcoin And Ethereum Mining In Hong Kong

That seems to be about right as well. 

What would the Proof-Of-Work critics say, now that half of the planet is an Ethereum miner? And what will happen to the program once Ethereum turns to Proof-Of-Stake? Burning questions. 

Featured Image by Sigmund on Unsplash  | Charts by TradingView

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Why Gold Is Beating Bitcoin In 2022

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Bitcoin continues to underperform as a general “risk-off” sentiment has investors driving toward gold as a safe haven asset.

Not Risking It

Concerns about the Russo-Ukrainian war continue. The U.S. inflation struggles at a four-decade high and Fed rate hike fears prevail. The uncertainty extends to the world economy as a recession is expected instead of a recovery. The IMF’s managing director Kristalina Georgieva called it “a crisis on top of a crisis.”

“The war is a supply shock that reduces economic output and raises prices. Indeed, we forecast inflation will accelerate to 5.5 percent in advanced economies and to 9.3 percent in emerging European economies excluding Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. ” The IMF stated last week.

Reuters recently quoted Commerzbank analyst Daniel Briesemann, who talked in a note about the factors that have “lent buoyancy to gold in recent days,” mentioning the “strong buying interest on the part of ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) investors” and news about the Ukraine war.

“Russia appears to be preparing to launch a major offensive in the east of the country – that is generating considerable demand for gold as a safe haven,” the analyst said.

This summarizes the “risk-off” sentiment at the moment. As expected, equities suffer as investors are selling risky assets and purchasing the ones negatively correlated to the traditional market. Thus, the crypto space is struggling alongside de stocks market and gold is rising.

Bitcoin Outperformed By Gold

Data from Arcane Research’s latest weekly report notes that it has been a gloomy year for the “digital gold.” In the first three weeks of 2022, Bitcoin sank 25% and it is still down by 18% in the year despite its slight recovery.

Similarly, Nasdaq records a 19% decline in the year, having underperformed against bitcoin “by a small margin,” notes the report, adding that “This is surprising given that bitcoin has tended to follow Nasdaq, albeit with higher volatility.”

The general fear over geopolitical and macroeconomic uncertainty has given gold the safe-haven asset spotlight once more. The asset outperformed all the other indexes seen below with a 4% gain.

Physical gold outperforming “digital gold” in 2022 | Source: Arcane Research

Meanwhile, the currency market is performing with “the same risk-off patterns.” The Dollar has been proving its “risk-off” dominance as the US Dollar Index (DXY) is up 7%. The Chinese yuan has taken a hit over concerns about the country’s “zero-covid” policy –which creates issues for the global supply chain– and the slowing down Chinese economy. In contrast, investors have been running to the US Dollar for safety.

Bitcoin supporters usually refer to the coin as “digital gold” alleging it is a safe haven asset, and this narrative had held well while BTC had been “uncorrelated with most other major asset classes,” but the tide is shifting with the 2022 scenario as investors are rather placing the coin “into the risk-on basket”.

A previous Arcane Research report indicated that bitcoin’s 30 -day correlation with the Nasdaq is revisiting July 2020 highs while its correlation with gold has reached all-time lows.

A pseudonym traded noted that “As Bitcoin adoption goes on and more institutional investors enter the market, the correlation of BTC and stocks becomes more and more tight. That is a paradigm that the crypto world struggled to come to terms with in the past but is now more real than ever. A healthy stock market is good for Bitcoin.”

Meanwhile, the general sentiment of traders seems to be bearish, with many saying that the coin could visit the $30k level soon.

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Bitcoin trading at $39k in the daily chart | BTCUSD on TradingView.com

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Attendees talk the future of NFTs

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The crypto community headed to Nassau in the Bahamas this week for the inaugural Crypto Bahamas conference.

Like most conferences, panels fill up the agenda and on Wednesday the topics at Crypto Bahamas ranged from NFTs to crypto in sports and to asset allocation in Web3. During one particular conversation, titled Evolution of NFTs: Culture, Utility and Regulation, panelists had some insightful musings on the NFT market.

To put the Crypto Bahamas conference into context, Sam Bankman-Fried’s cryptocurrency exchange FTX moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas in Sept. 2021. It recently inked a multi-year partnership with Anthony Scaramucci’s investment firm SkyBridge Capital, and its events arm SkyBridge Alternatives, or SALT. They jointly presented the conference.

That’s why the NFT panel consisted of multiple perspectives from Tristan Yver, head of strategy at FTX U.S., Joseph Doll, attorney at Fenwick law firm, Roham Gharegozlou, the chief executive officer at Dapper Labs, and Sarah Hammer, the managing director of The Stevens Center for Innovation in Finance at The Wharton School. Zack Guzman, writer for the Meta-owned newsletter platform Bulletin, moderated.

Gharegozlou pointed out how new the NFT market truly is when “most people have only been thinking about it for a year and a half,” making valuations “very immature.” As the CEO of Dapper Labs, the company behind NBA Top Shot,  Gharegozlou recognized that “utility, rewards and the how you value and NFT is primarily based on the strength of that of the community.”

He added that a good way for an NFT collection to build a strong community is to have multiple tiers of scarcity. In the case of NBA Top Shot, at the higher price end there is extreme scarcity, but there are also millions of “common” moments so that people can “get their first NFT and see how it feels without breaking the bank.” 

Tristan Yver echoed that the current valuation and pricing model for NFTs is based on a collective perception on value based on the amount of people willing to buy an asset for a certain amount. He anticipated a “movement away from this consensus view to a more unique singular view where people buy things that resonate with them rather than what resonates with a larger community.”

Joseph Doll chimed in to say that “communities need to be thoughtful about democratizing access.” There are some “massive” barriers to entry to certain projects, he said, including not being early enough or not having enough capital at the time. He questioned, “That’s not what crypto is about, right? It’s kind of about the exact opposite of that.” Democratization, he suggested, can come in the form of derivative projects at better price points.

Another important point brought up by Yver was the reality of scams, especially on Discord and Twitter. He said that “we need to move past security aspects to be able to really bring in the next large mass of users.” He recommended talking among family and friends or asking a Discord moderator to make sure “you click the right link when minting that NFT” because “wallet security sucks right now.”

Gharegozlou even said that Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, should use Web3 to fix Twitter’s fraud problem, just as Discord should use Web3 authentication and verification as well. “Once NFT’s are the sort of identity bridge across all these different social networks, identity and assets, authenticity, provenance,” then the system can be more resilient he added.

When asked what “main alpha” the audience should bear in mind, Doll said to engage with and be part of these NFT communities even if it’s “scary,” because getting scammed is a “part of the journey.”

Sarah Hammer, who leads the Cypher Accelerator at Wharton business school, said that the school is launching an incubator specifically for NFT projects in partnership with Dapper Labs because the “NFT model is a business model for the future.” She emphasized that the greatest way to grow and innovate in the space is to increase education efforts in order to get more people learning and working together.

Related: Goldman Sachs reportedly eyes FTX alliance with regulatory and public listing assistance

Recently the Bahamian government allowed residents to use digital assets, including the world’s first central bank digital currency, or CBDC, to pay for taxes in 2022.