At this point, most people are used to seeing phishing scams and spam messages through emails, social media and text messages. However, spammers have been finding new exploits in popular cloud services to push spam and malicious content to the users.
In June 2019, Kaspersky reported that spammers are using Google Calendar invitations as a method of pushing spam links to users. They’re doing this by taking advantage of Google Calendar’s ability to automatically add events and invites over from your attached Gmail account.
Now, this is not the first time Google services are being used for pushing spam messages to the users. Users had similar problems with services such as Google Drive, Photos and Docs in the past. Gmail is still plagued by this, but spam filters move these messages from inbox to the spam folder by default. But, Google Calendar lacks a spam filter to sort out the spam events, and has become a target for phishing and spamming.
By default, even if you have never clicked ‘Accept’, Google Calendar will still add events to your calendar whenever you receive an invitation. This makes it easy for spammers to add spam events onto your Google Calendar. Even if you decline unknown events, Calendar will still display events you’ve declined, meaning those spam links will stick around, too.
Since Google Calendar is a trusted application, users are less likely to ignore these invitations and events, and often they’ll click on the link without hesitation. In many cases of this “calendar phishing”, the links redirected to a website that asked for credit card details or personal information.
To prevent this, Kaspersky suggests that turning off the ‘auto-add’ feature will restrict scammers from adding events on your Google Calendar. If you are wondering how to do it, we have compiled a step-by-step guide on how to stop spammers from adding spam events on your Google Calendar. Just follow the steps mentioned below:
How to block unwanted spam events on Google Calendar
- Stop Google Calendar from auto-adding invites
- Stop Google Calendar from adding events from Gmail
- Hide declined Google Calendar invites
Stop Google Calendar from auto-adding invites
- To stop Google Calendar from adding invites automatically, first, click on the gear icon (⚙️) found on the top-right corner. You will see a drop-down menu.
- From the drop-down menu, click on ‘Settings.’
- Now, click on ‘General’ which is located on the left sidebar, you’ll see an expanded view of general settings.
- Next, click on ‘Event Settings’ from the expanded menu.
- After that, locate the option labeled “Automatically add invitations” and click on it.
- From the drop-down menu, click on “No, only show invitations to which I have responded”.
Stop Google Calendar from adding events from Gmail
- To stop Google Calendar from adding events from Gmail, first, go back into the Settings menu by clicking on the gear icon (⚙️) and then selecting ‘Settings’ from the drop-down menu.
- Now click on ‘Events from Gmail’ from the General tab, located on the left sidebar.
- Untick the box next to “Automatically add events from Gmail to my calendar”.
- Finally, a confirmation box will pop-up. Click ‘OK’ to confirm the change.
Hide declined Google Calendar invites
If you have declined spam calendar events in the past, Google Calendar will still show you the crossed-out entries. You can get rid of them via the following steps:
- Go back to Google Calendar’s Settings menu. As mentioned before, click on the gear icon (⚙️) and then select ‘Settings’.
- Now click on ‘View options’ from the General tab, found on the left sidebar.
- Untick the box next to ‘Show declined events’ to remove the declined spam events.
If you are on Android/iOS, declined events will still appear even after you change the settings from the Google Calendar desktop page. If you want to hide declined events on your smartphone, follow these steps:
- First of all, launch the Google Calendar App on your Android/iOS device.
- After that, swipe left to pull out the sidebar. Scroll down all the way and tap on ‘Settings’.
- Now click on ‘General’ from the Settings menu.
- Search for ‘Show declined events’ and toggle it off.
This whole thing could have been avoided if only Google disabled the options by default. But as of now, an increasing number of users online have been reporting about these annoying spam events auto-added on Google Calendar. It’s pretty sad that some people are finding such loopholes and using it to extort money out of users. Google hasn’t yet replied to these incidents at the time of this writing. Also, it should be mentioned that Google Calendar isn’t the only choice for spammers. I, myself have been noticing spam events on Windows 10 Mail and Calendar app. We hope to see tech companies take strict measures to fix this spam issue in the near future.
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