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The United States has prohibited the sale of Kaspersky software due to concerns about security risks originating from Russia

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The United States government declared on Thursday its prohibition of the sale of Kaspersky antivirus within the nation and is urging American users of the software to transition to an alternative provider.

The Bureau of Industry and Security, a division of the Commerce Department, has implemented a unique ban on Kaspersky, claiming that the company, being headquartered in Russia, poses a threat to both U.S. national security and the privacy of its users.

Russia has demonstrated both the ability and the intention to utilize Russian companies, such as Kaspersky, to gather and weaponize the personal data of Americans. “Hence, we are obliged to undertake the course of action that we are currently implementing,” stated U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo during a conference call with journalists.

Reuters was the first to report on the ban before it was officially announced. A representative from Kaspersky did not promptly reply to the inquiry for a comment.

Starting on July 20, Kaspersky will face a ban on selling its software to American consumers and businesses. However, the company will still be allowed to offer software and security updates to its current customers until September 29. Subsequently, Raimondo stated that Kaspersky would be prohibited from delivering software updates to customers in the United States.

“This implies that the quality of your software and services will decline.” Raimondo strongly advises finding an alternative to Kaspersky without delay.

Raimondo stated that U.S. consumers who are currently utilizing Kaspersky’s antivirus software are not in breach of any legal regulations.

Raimondo stated that individuals and businesses in the United States who currently use or have previously used Kaspersky products and services are not breaking the law, have not committed any wrongdoing, and will not face any legal consequences. “I strongly urge you to cease using that software and transition to an alternative as soon as possible to safeguard yourself, your data, and your family.”

Raimondo announced that the Department of Homeland Security and the Justice Department will collaborate to notify American consumers. Additionally, the U.S. government will establish a website to provide affected individuals with the necessary information to comprehend the rationale behind our actions and guide them in taking appropriate measures.

According to a high-ranking official from the U.S. Commerce Department, the federal cybersecurity agency CISA will engage in communication efforts with critical infrastructure organizations that rely on Kaspersky software in order to assist them in identifying alternative options. The official further stated that they have no intention of specifying any particular action by Kaspersky that prompted today’s decision. (The Commerce Department asked reporters not to reveal the official’s identity.)

The ban, which was announced on Thursday, represents the most recent intensification in a protracted sequence of measures taken by the U.S. government against Kaspersky, a company based in Moscow.

In September 2017, the Trump administration implemented a prohibition on the utilization of Kaspersky software by U.S. federal agencies due to concerns that the company may be coerced into assisting Russian intelligence agencies. In a previous report, it was disclosed that Russian state-sponsored hackers had illicitly acquired classified U.S. documents that were stored on the personal computer of an intelligence contractor. This breach occurred due to the use of Kaspersky’s antivirus software, making it the first documented case of espionage resulting from the use of this particular company’s software.

The Wall Street Journal reported in April 2023 that the decision to prohibit Kaspersky has been under development since last year.

According to the company itself, Kaspersky has more than 240,000 corporate clients globally and over 400 million individual customers. The senior official refrained from disclosing the exact number of U.S. customers that Kaspersky has. However, the official mentioned that there are a substantial number of customers, including critical infrastructure organizations as well as state and local government entities.

As Editor here at GeekReply, I'm a big fan of all things Geeky. Most of my contributions to the site are technology related, but I'm also a big fan of video games. My genres of choice include RPGs, MMOs, Grand Strategy, and Simulation. If I'm not chasing after the latest gear on my MMO of choice, I'm here at GeekReply reporting on the latest in Geek culture.

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Android

Google Chrome now has a ‘picture-in-picture’ feature

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Google is getting ready to make a big change to how its Chrome browser works. This is because new browsers from startups like Arc are making the market more competitive. The company said on Wednesday that it will be adding a new feature called “Minimized Custom Tabs” that will let users tap to switch between a native app and their web content. When you do this, the Custom Tab turns into a small window that floats above the content of the native app.

The new feature is all about using Custom Tabs, which is a feature in Android browsers that lets app developers make their own browser experience right in their app. Users don’t have to open their browser or a WebView, which doesn’t support all of the web platform’s features. Custom tabs let users stay in their app while browsing. Custom tabs can help developers keep users in their apps longer and keep them from leaving and never coming back.

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If you make the Custom Tab into a picture-in-picture window, switching to the web view might feel more natural, like you’re still in the native app. People who send their customers to a website to sign up for accounts or subscriptions might also find this change useful, since it makes it easier for users to switch between the website and the native app.

After being shrunk down to the picture-in-picture window, the Custom Tab can be pushed to the side of the screen. Users can tap on a down arrow to bring the page back to the picture-in-picture window when it is full screen.

The new web experience comes at a time when Google is making it easier for Android users to connect to the web. People can find their way to the web with AI-powered features like Circle to Search and other integrations that let them do things like circle or highlight items.

The change is coming to the newest version of Chrome (M124), and developers who already use Chrome’s Custom Tabs will see it automatically. Google says that the change only affects Chrome browsers, but it hopes that other browser makers will add changes like these.

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Threads finally starts its own program to check facts

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Meta’s latest social network, Threads, is launching its own fact-checking initiative after leveraging Instagram and Facebook’s networks for a brief period.

Adam Mosseri, the CEO of Instagram, stated that the company has recently implemented a feature that allows fact-checkers to assess and label false content on threads. Nevertheless, Mosseri refrained from providing specific information regarding the exact timing of the program’s implementation and whether it was restricted to certain geographical regions.

The fact-checking partners for Threads—which organizations are affiliated with Meta—are not clearly specified. We have requested additional information from the company and will revise the story accordingly upon receiving a response.

The upcoming U.S. elections appear to be the main driving force behind the decision. India is currently in the midst of its general elections. However, it is improbable that a social network would implement a fact-checking program specifically during an election cycle rather than initiating the project prior to the elections.

In December, Meta announced its intention to implement the fact-checking program on Threads.

“At present, we align the fact-check ratings from Facebook or Instagram with Threads. However, our objective is to empower fact-checking partners to evaluate and assign ratings to misinformation on the application,” Mosseri stated in a post during that period.

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Software

Google developed several pioneering social applications for Android, such as Twitter and various others

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Here is a lesser-known piece of startup history that may not be widely known outside of the technology companies themselves: Google itself developed the initial iterations of well-known Android applications, such as Twitter. The revelation was made during a recent podcast featuring Sara Beykpour, the former senior director of product management at Twitter and current co-founder of the AI news startup Particle.

Beykpour discusses her involvement in Twitter’s past in a podcast with Lightspeed partner Michael Mignano. She details her employment at Twitter in 2009, where she started as a tools engineer, during a time when the company had a workforce of approximately 75 individuals. Subsequently, Beykpour transitioned to working on mobile applications at Twitter during a period when third-party applications were gaining traction on different platforms, such as BlackBerry and iOS. Twitter bought one of those applications, called Loren Brichter’s Tweetie, and used it as the basis for its initial official iOS app.

Beykpour stated that Twitter’s Android app originated from Google.

The Twitter for Android client was a prototype app that Google created and gave to them, according to her statement on the podcast. “During that period, Google developed all the popular social apps such as Foursquare and Twitter, resulting in a similar appearance among them.”

Mignano interrupted, requesting clarification on the matter. Did Google develop applications in order to encourage companies to adopt Android?

“Yes, precisely,” Beykpour replied.

Following that, Twitter took over control of the Google-developed Android app and started to improve its features. According to her, Beykpour was the company’s second Android engineer.

Google documented its efforts on the Android Twitter client in a blog post in 2010. However, the media coverage during that time failed to acknowledge Google’s contribution, resulting in this aspect of internet history being overlooked. Google’s post details the integration of early Android best practices into the Twitter app. Beykpour informed TechCrunch that Virgil Dobjanschi, the post’s author, held the primary role of software engineer.

“We were expected to direct any inquiries to him,” she recalls.

Beykpour also recounted additional anecdotes regarding Twitter’s early stages. As an example, she was involved in the development of Vine, Twitter’s video app, after returning to Twitter from working at Secret. She faced pressure to release Vine on Android before Instagram launched its own video product. According to her, she managed to meet the deadline by introducing Vine approximately two weeks prior to the release of Instagram Video.

The latter had a significant impact on Vine’s metrics, and according to Beykpour, it was the main factor that caused the downfall of the popular app.

She claimed that, even though it took several years for Vine to finally shut down, “that was the day when the signs of its demise became evident.”

At Twitter, Beykpour spearheaded the discontinuation of Vine’s product—an application that remains highly popular, to the extent that even Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter/X, continues to playfully hint at its potential revival. However, Beykpour believes that Twitter made a sound decision regarding Vine, as he acknowledges that the app was not experiencing growth and was costly to maintain. She concedes that others may have a different perspective, possibly contending that Vine lacked sufficient resources or support from leadership. However, the ultimate reason for the closure was Vine’s effect on Twitter’s financial performance.

Beykpour also recounted a captivating anecdote regarding his experience working on Periscope. She left Secret and joined the startup just as Twitter purchased it. She recalls the necessity of rejoining Twitter using an alias in order to maintain secrecy about the acquisition for a period of time.

During her presentation on Twitter, she also discussed the challenges associated with acquiring the necessary resources to create and enhance products and features specifically designed for power users, such as journalists.

“Twitter faced difficulties in defining its user,” she stated, as it “relied heavily on conventional OKRs and metrics.” However, it was a reality that only a small proportion of individuals engage in tweeting, and within this subset, only a portion of them are responsible for creating the content that is truly desired by everyone. Beykpour acknowledges that quantifying this subset was a challenging task.

Currently at Particle, her expertise in developing Twitter is influencing the approach for the AI news application, which aims to facilitate the connection between individuals and the news that is relevant to their interests and happening in their vicinity.

“Particle represents a new approach to consuming your daily news,” Beykpour states in the podcast. The objective of the app is to offer a comprehensive and diverse outlook on news while also granting users access to journalism of exceptional quality. The startup is seeking alternative methods to generate revenue from reporting, in addition to advertisements, subscriptions, or micropayments. Nevertheless, the precise details of Particle’s approach are still under deliberation. The startup is presently engaging in discussions with potential publisher partners regarding the remuneration for their contributions.

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