Sobig a Problem


If you haven't at least encountered the Sobig virus in your inbox you must not get much email. Estimates are that 75% of all mail could be Sobig or a Sobig-caused error message. Time to retool the system.

The only possible solution is sender-pays email. Right now we have a classic tragedy of the commons situation where spammers and abusers have the most incentive to turn the email network to their own purposes. Service providers correctly make no warranty about the integrity of email. Look at your terms of service agreement and you may find that email is defined as an "added benefit" quite apart from the connection you buy. If so, then your email could go away forever tomorrow and there is nothing you could do except find another provider.

That wouldn't be the case if email service was the subject of a contract. On the other end, consumers would have more incentive to apply the patches and the security regimes to protect themselves—and their investment—if they wrote a check specifically for email each month.

Such a system wouldn't be bulletproof, but it would much better than either the current mess or whatever is likely to result from having the feds write laws in a futile attempt to stop spam.