You’re checking the online diary to check if some dreaded event is looming when suddenly a message pops up promising you a free iPhone.
Click the link in this alert, however, and you could end up being cast down into a world of pain.
This is the situation facing vast numbers of people who have claimed spam is infesting their Google Calendar.
Normally, Calendar is just like any other diary, serving to remind people of upcoming events (or mock them with reminders of dates they’ve missed).
But order is being turned into chaos for some unlucky users, who’ve reported seeing spam in their calendars.
Spam is the name for unwanted messages which flood into inboxes.
Anyone else starting getting Google Calendar spam recently? It’s super annoying! pic.twitter.com/0w0brS5ml1
— Dan van der Ster (@danvanderster) August 27, 2019
There’s now spam getting into Google Calendar. pic.twitter.com/KOwZc6OquM
— Allan (@ACaomhanach) August 27, 2019
You might think this is more annoying than dangerous.
Yet if you are hit by a convincing email which manages to convince you to hand over bank account details or any other persona information, you could end up being robbed or even falling victim to identity theft.
The Calendar spam often falsely offers free iPhones and then ask them to enter card details and personal information such as a name, phone number and address.
Maria Vergelis, a security researcher at the tech security firm Kaspersky, said: ‘The “calendar scam”, is a very effective scheme, as currently people have more or less got used to receiving spam messages from e-mails or messengers and do not immediately trust them.
‘But this may not be the case when it comes to the Calendar app, which has a main purpose to organize information rather than transfer it. So far, the sample we’ve seen contains text displaying an obviously weird offer, but as It happens, every simple scheme becomes more elaborate and trickier with time.
‘The good news is – one also doesn’t need any sophisticated precautions to avoid such scam – the feature that enables it can be easily turned off in the calendar settings,” – said Maria Vergelis, security researcher at Kaspersky.
Google said: ‘Google’s Terms of Service and product policies prohibit the spreading of malicious content on our services, and we work diligently to prevent and proactively address abuse.
‘Combating spam is a never-ending battle, and while we’ve made great progress, sometimes spam gets through.
‘We remain deeply committed to protecting all of our users from spam: we scan content on Photos for spam and provide users the ability to report spam in Calendar, Forms, Google Drive, and Google Photos, as well as block spammers from contacting them on Hangouts.
‘In addition, we offer security protections for users by warning them of known malicious URLs via Google Chrome’s Safe Browsing filters.’
How to protect yourself from Google Calendar spam
You can banish spam by turning off the automatic adding of invites to your calendar.
To do this open Google Calendar, click the settings icon (a little gear), then press Event Settings.
Go to the ‘automatically add invitations’ option, click on the dropdown menu and select :‘No, only show invitations to which I’ve responded.’
Then click on the View Options section and make sure ‘show declined events’ is not checked
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