Clean Up Your Apps!

Paula LabrotBy Paula Labrot      January 21, 2022

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Clean Up Your Apps!
While Norton 360 is a well-known, respected anti-virus program, it has embedded it with a crypto-currency mining component. If you’re not into crypto currency, you might want to opt out.
Happy New Year, Dear Readers! Finally, 2022 has arrived. What better to do than clear out the clutter of the past? Start cleaning up your phones and computers by taking any apps or programs you are not using OFF! Why, you ask? Because these “helpful,” often free, little platforms are sometimes loaded with software that are able to take advantage of your data, your computer power, and your electricity. What is At Risk? Any time you install software onto a device, you are at risk for virus infections and other invasive malware designed by hackers. According to Ryan Dube, writing for Lifewire.com, the purpose of viruses and malware is to “steal personal information from your computer files that steal bank or credit accounts, and other login information using keyboard logger software. These turn your computer into a “bot” to perform email spamming attacks, randomly pop-up ad windows while you’re using your computer or pop-up ransomware threats to get you to send money.” There are a lot of nasty viruses and malware hidden in downloads and websites you visit. Sandra Gyles of vpnoverviewe.com explains, “The goal of a virus scanner is to protect your device from viruses and other types of malware. It does this by comparing whatever threat it encounters to a blacklist. All viruses known to your antivirus program are on this blacklist. As soon as the virus scanner encounters something that has been blacklisted, the program will stop the file and try to delete it.” Each virus scanner has its own database of known viruses and malware, but the scanner can also detect if a file is acting strangely. Gyles reports that, even if something is not on the blacklist, your virus scanner can use predictive techniques known as “hueristic” or “threat protection” to counteract suspicious programs. Virus scanners can protect you from threats coming into your device, and they can protect you from having your information sent out of your device by monitoring your network traffic. Kind of like that old Roach Motel commercial, “they get in but they can’t get out.” A good anti-virus program is a must! Well, yes, but… (Is there never an end to cyber invasiveness?) Norton 360 Norton 360 is a well-known, respected anti-virus program. Many people have it on their devices. Well, guess what? Along with the anti-virus software is now coming a crypto-currency mining component! What?! In July, 2021, Norton rolled out its crypto-miner. It is embedded in their anti-virus program for Android devices. So, anyone who installs Norton Anti-Virus gets this mining program with it. How ironic. Once installed, the program prompts the user: “Turn your PC’s idle time into cash.” So, in all fairness, you do have a choice and Norton does give a monetary incentive to turn it on. But...by activating the crypto-miner, you become part of a pool of users mining for Ethereum and, yes, you share in the rewards but...there’s another but.... Let me unpack this for you. Crypto-currency is a new kind of currency that is digital. It doesn’t exist in the form of a bill or coin. It exists in electronic form. You keep track of it on the blockchain. Just like there is a limited supply of gold in the world, there is a limited supply of Bitcoin or Ethereum or other crypto-currencies. To mine for gold, you dig or pan streams. To mine for crypto-currency, you solve super difficult math puzzles. Crypto Mining To be successful as a digital miner you must have two things: power and speed. Bitcoin miners use more electricity annually than whole countries, like Argentina, the Netherlands and the United Arab Republic. Because whoever solves the math puzzle or “hash puzzle” first gets the coin or token; speed is of the essence. According to PopularMechanics.com, “Miners use high-end graphics cards, or GPUs, because these pieces of hardware are already made to churn through computer math as quickly as possible and with a lot of calculations running at the same time. Like a highway with more lanes, this reduces congestion and travel time. It also heats up your PC, usually requiring high-end fans to cool it.” It’s all super expensive. Norton’s Little Plan By adding its crypto-mining software to its antivirus program, Norton hopes to network the power of thousands of customers’ computers when idle, as well as their electricity. In return, customers get a share of whatever rewards are mined. It’s just that Norton takes 15% off the top, customers pay the electricity, customers’ computers get the wear and tear, and it is not always so easy to convert the rewards to cash. Norton could make millions. Customers….not so much. Get Your Cyber Broom Going The point is, any app or software you download onto your computer can be embedded with components you either do not want or, worse, may lead to data breaches on your device. Get rid of any app you don’t use! A new year, a clean start! Vamos a ver!
Paula Labrot
      January 21, 2022

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