'Tis the season to recount our failings and misdoings, to make amends for the things we are sorry we did and to resolve to make it up to those we have wronged.
And so, in that spirit, we come before our computer and humbly apologize for all the abuse we have put it through in the past year. We blame it for slowness and sluggishness, but whose fault is it that our PCs aren't performing up to par? Who is it that installs the spyware, adware and junk-ware that makes things move as slowly as an overweight turtle? Is it fair for us to kick our computers and blame them for not doing the job fast enough?
Thus, we owe it to our computers to make it up to them - to undo the damage we did when we installed suspicious looking file sharing programs that came packaged with "phone-home programs" that burden our systems with pop-up ads, hijacked Web browser pages and unsavory underground port openings that ferry heaven knows what kind of icky data through our networks.
But as the High Holy Day season teaches us, it is possible to make amends - and that includes computers as well. But the penance for PC mistreatment isn't all that bad; in fact, all you've got to do is download and install a free program called Spybot Search and Destroy (http://spybot.com), and you're all set. Spybot really is the ideal program for battling any spyware related installations. None of us would of course install such nefarious agents in our computers on purpose.
So where does it come from? Often bundled as part of "legitimate" programs, with spyware makers, like the ever-popular DoubleClick "bundling" their programs, which gather data on your surfing habits without your knowledge (aggregately, it must be said, so they don't identify you personally) to build product sales profiles for clients. On a new computer I set up recently and installed about five programs on, there were already nearly a dozen programs or processes that Spybot tagged as spyware (including DoubleClick!).
Which programs install such spyware? The truth is there are so many, it's hard to keep track. But most of them, according the Wikipedia page on spyware (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spyware), are either P2P sharing programs, or phony "anti-spyware" programs that install the very thing they claim to remove (now that's hutzpa!).
Regardless of where it comes from, Spybot has got its number. Run the program, list the spyware and decide whether you want to keep it or not (removal sometimes disables the program that it came with). And Spybot's "immunize" function makes sure that, once gone, spyware will no longer dare to rear its ugly head. Spybot's protection is absolutely free, and comes in dozens of languages (including Hebrew). We have offended, it is true - but with Spybot Search and Destroy, we can restore our relationship with our PCs - and get a faster, better running machine in the bargain.