Category: Government (Page 1 of 2)

U.S. Ban on Kaspersky Antivirus

U.S. Ban on Kaspersky Antivirus

Kaspersky is a well-known antivirus provider, that has fallen out of favor in the US, over the years. It’s largely due to its perceived ties to Russia, whom the US considers a “foreign adversary.” In 2017, Kaspersky software was forbidden from use in any part of our government. And now in 2024, we’re about to see a complete prohibition, a full-on U.S. Ban on Kaspersky Antivirus.

The US Government explains the ban on the Bureau of Industry & Security website. But that makes for really dry reading, so I’ll also summarize: Kaspersky is being shown the door, because our government is worried about cybersecurity threats that their software could bring to American computers. Threats such as espionage, malware, and data theft. This decision has been made, so if you are a current Kaspersky software user, here’s what you really need to know and act on:

  • Kaspersky customers in the USA are not in any trouble. You will not be punished, fined or otherwise harassed for your use of the Kaspersky software.
  • You can keep using Kaspersky software, if you care to, with no ill-effects or penalty. However, your antivirus will no longer receive updates after 9/29/2024. That essentially means that you need a different antivirus in 3 months time.
  • I don’t know what this means for automatic renewals! So to be safe, all Kaspersky customers should log in one last time at their Account website. Delete all stored payment methods and turn off all recurring renewal fees or subscriptions.

If you need any help with your conversion to a new antivirus, give me a call!

New Broadband Labeling Requirements

If you are shopping for internet service, you should know about the new broadband labeling requirements. The FCC now requires ISPs to clearly state speeds, pricing and other critical details about their services. These new Broadband Consumer Labels look like the FDA’s nutrition labels. Overall, the government is trying to make ISPs present their offerings in a standard and less confusing way.


Here’s an example of what you will find, when you go shopping at Xfinity’s website:

New Broadband Labeling Requirements

When I visited the Glofiber page, their internet offerings were super-clear with these labels:

Despite this being a strict federal requirement, some ISPs are going to play with the format, to see what they can get away with. I went shopping for Verizon Fios, and didn’t see these labels. They gave me the same old Plan Summaries and encouraged me to choose one. But below these choices was a small, plain link that said “Jump to broadband facts labels” and those revealed the clearer details:

If you cannot locate these Broadband Nutrition labels on an ISP’s website, please know that:

  • This is a very new requirement, and perhaps they are still getting their website updated with this info.
  • Small ISPs (with fewer than 100,000 subscribers) have until October to comply.
  • The FCC would like for you to let them know, if an ISP is not posting these labels, or if they are being inaccurate with their pricing or other stated details. You may report such deceptive business practices at this site.

Importance of Broadband Labels

These labels are meant to help you avoid unpleasant surprises on your internet bill. So many people sign up with an ISP due to a low monthly price, only to find out a year later that they were enjoying a promotional discount. When the real price kicks in, those customers feel duped or taken advantage of. The FCC would like to help you know, from these labels, when you are paying a reliable price or a temporary one.

Besides clearing the air over pricing, these labels may help you understand your internet speed. It is so important to know what speed you should be getting in your home! Let me digress with this scenario:

I frequently help clients in speeding up their tech and figuring out why things are slow. And in the course of this detective work, I have to ask them: What speed of internet are you paying for? Many people do not know the answer to this, so we look at their internet bill. If we can’t find the speed on the bill, we visit the ISP’s website. And even then, we may not find any speed numbers. How in the world are we to know if their internet is operating correctly, if we can’t determine what speed they should be seeing?

These labels will clear up that kind of mess. Customers will be able to run a simple speed test, compare it against their broadband label, and reach out to the ISP over any discrepancy. Not that I don’t enjoy the detective work, but this will save everyone so much time!

Checking the Air Quality Index

Our government has created a great resource for checking the Air Quality Index. AirNow was created by the EPA, NOAA, CDC and other government agencies, and is a simple information tool, without advertisements. Visit at any time for local AQI info. And feel free to scroll down for more info on forest fires, AQI webcams and more.

But even better, we now have an AirNow app. This, too, is free and shows no ads! So for the ultimate in convenience, throw this app on your Android or Apple smartphone, so you can check the AQI on the fly.

Unclaimed Money

There may be some money out there with your name on it. All you have to do is claim it. This is not a scam. Unclaimed money, aka unclaimed property or abandoned property, is regulated and managed by consumer protection laws throughout the USA.

Unclaimed money can be from a forgotten bank account, or a refund that couldn’t be mailed to you. Whatever the scenario, that money is typically sent to a state-run office for unclaimed funds, and it is held and logged in a database. If you find it and can prove who you are, they give you your money!

Official Unclaimed Money Websites

Check out the first bulleted link above. This site is run by our federal government, and they explain about how unclaimed property is managed in the USA. And then they provide links to the other bulleted websites above.

Each state has its own unclaimed-funds website, and will help you find the right office for your state. At, you can click your state on a map and the next site will help you begin your search.

But what if you’ve moved around a lot in your lifetime? You could have missing money all over the country… And has you covered, because that site will let you search the entire USA. The search results can be a bit messy, and you may have a lot more to comb through, but it’s worth it if you find some big $$$!

Not A Scam

I want to repeat that this opportunity is legitimate. I know that I often blog about scams, and I encourage all of my readers to mistrust a lot of what they encounter on the internet. But this time, I have something positive and trustworthy to share with you!

Still, be safe out there. Start with the sites I’ve linked to above. Read up on what those sites describe until you are comfortable with this topic. Don’t use Google to look for unclaimed money, because you will encounter suspicious look-alikes and impostors.

Know that if you do pursue unclaimed funds through these offices, you will have to provide significant personal info and documentation, to prove who you are. As long as you start with the links on this page, you will be dealing with real government agencies and trustworthy programs. And best of all, the process is cost-free. You won’t be asked for any fees for your searches and claims.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Dial 988

Starting July 16, 2022, there is a new number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988. This number will work across the entire USA.

If you are thinking about suicide, are worried about someone, or just need emotional support:

The old number, 1-800-273-8255, will also still connect to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Please read more about how the Lifeline can provide free and confidential support, and check out their FAQ, as well.

The Russia-Ukraine War: Avoiding Scams and How to Help

Many scammers are capitalizing on the emotions revolving around the conflict in Ukraine. Please be on the lookout for scams related to the war in Ukraine, especially fundraising scams.

If you do want to help, you have options and tools to make sure you do it safely, using legitimate organizations. Check out these articles for solid ideas and appropriate companies to work with.

For any other charities you might consider, know that you can check their reputations, using watchdog websites like:

Charity Navigator


Charity Watch

Free At-Home COVID Tests

UPDATE on 9/25/2023: our government, once again, is offering to send each household free at-home COVID tests. They’ll send you 4 tests, at no charge to you. If you want yours, head on over to or this website to request them.

Starting today (1/16/2022), our government will send 4 at-home COVID tests to any US household, for FREE. If you need some tests, visit their website to receive yours!

USPS Operation Santa

The USPS needs your help! Their Operation Santa program has gone national this year, and they need generous people to help them answer letters sent to Santa.

This USPS program collects and posts Santa-letters from kiddos all over the USA. When you participate in the program, you can “adopt” a letter, respond to it appropriately and send a gift (as Santa) through regular USPS mail.

If you’re interested in fulfilling a child’s holiday wish, you should check out how it all works, as well as the FAQ, for this program. They’ve got all kinds of instructions and print-outs that make this easy to do.

Text to 911

In case of an emergency, many parts of the USA support Text to 911. This technology allows you to contact 911 for help via text message (SMS).

The FCC reminds everyone that you should place a voice call to 911 whenever possible.

Much of the Shenandoah Valley((Warren County, VA has assured me they support this tech, even though they are not on the FCC list)) is covered, as shown on the FCC’s Public Safety list. Please feel free to verify other American cities and counties using that list. Or, reach out to your local police department or county offices to ask.

For more details, read up at the main FCC page for this technology.

Recycling Computers and Other Tech

Recycle your computers and other tech, please!

It’s best to recycle your computers and other technology items, when you don’t need them any more. Here are some tools and places to know about for e-recycling:

Mail-In Services

Best Buy recently launched a recycling service, where you can mail your unwanted tech to them for recycling. Unfortunately, it comes with some significant pricetags. I’m all about free, so here are some other mail-in recycling services that won’t cost you:

Amazon will recycle small items, and they will give you a free shipping label to send them in to them.

Apple will also recycle many items through the mail, also supplying you with a free shipping label.

Beyond Surplus offers free mail-in recycling, provided you have at least 2 laptops to put in the mailer-box.

Recycling Search Websites

Earth911 offers a nationwide search tool to give you ideas of who recycles technology items near you.

The Consumer Technology Association also offers a decent search tool.

Call2Recycle will help you find local places to recycle your batteries and cellphones.

Recycling Offered by Computer Manufacturers

Most computer manufacturers offer free & easy recycling options. It’s required by state and federal law. You can usually locate information about those by Googling for the manufacturer name + “recycling”. But maybe these links will save you some searching:

Other Local Options

Many national stores offer trade-in programs, where you get some amount of store credit or other value for select, working tech items. Check out:

You can also usually take unwanted tech to your local landfill, but you’ll want to be aware of any fees they might charge before you drive there. You can usually expect the highest fees for CRT monitors, since our country has a bit of a problem handling those.

One final suggestion: in my region, the non-profit organization Blue Ridge Hospice accepts most electronics at their thrift store locations. Whether your electronics are working or nonfunctional, you can donate them to BRH and they will take care of them appropriately. They even offer to destroy hard drives, to ensure your data is not used elsewhere. Check out their website or their Facebook Page for more details and reach out to them if you have questions.

If you’re in a different part of the USA, you might call your local thrift stores and other non-profits to ask if any of them offer e-recycling like Blue Ridge Hospice!

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