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A new surprise feature for Norton 360 antivirus users: You can mine for cryptocurrency

The vendor says that bringing mining in-house has security benefits.

NortonLifeLock has launched a dedicated cryptocurrency mining setup for users of the Norton 360 antivirus platform.

Announced on Wednesday, NortonLifeLock says that the new feature, Norton Crypto, will be rolled out today for users signed up to Norton's early adopter program. 

Also: Best antivirus software

Norton Crypto has been designed to allow users to "safely and easily mine cryptocurrency." In the initial stages, users will be able to mine for Ethereum (ETH). 

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Mining software leverages a PC's CPU and graphics capabilities to obtain cryptocurrencies ranging from ETH to Monero (XMR). However, in order to do so, NortonLifeLock says users may have to disable their antivirus solutions -- potentially Norton 360 included -- and this could allow "unvetted code" to compromise their systems. 

The vendor added that cryptocurrency miners taking this risk could lead to the theft of their hard-won coins, or loss if coins are kept in cold storage on user hard drives.

To promote the new feature, NortonLifeLock claims that Norton Crypto will protect against these pitfalls by storing coins in a cloud-based wallet, Norton Crypto Wallet. 

A company spokesperson told The Verge that once cryptocurrency has been earned, it will be possible to "pull money into Coinbase," which suggests that Norton Crypto users may also need to sign up for an account with the trading platform -- unless other alternative exchanges or means of transfer are also offered. 

"We are proud to be the first consumer Cyber Safety company to offer coin miners the ability to safely and easily turn the idle time on their PCs into an opportunity to earn digital currency," commented Gagan Singh, NortonLifeLock chief product officer.

Users in the US should be aware that cryptocurrency is considered a taxable asset and so earnings may have to be declared. 

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The timing of the announcement, however, is while the cryptocurrency market is far from flourishing. 

The prices of popular coins, including Bitcoin (BTC), ETH, and Dogecoin (DOGE) appear to be on a slow recovery trajectory after cryptocurrencies at large suffered a crash in May, prompted by increasing regulatory scrutiny in China and the US, as well as Elon Musk's announcement that Tesla would no longer accept BTC as payment. 

Norton Crypto will be rolled out and made available to all Norton 360 customers in the coming weeks. 

ZDNet has reached out to the vendor with additional queries and we will update when we hear back. 

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