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How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Justin Duino
How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendarJustin Duino
Managing Editor

Justin Duino is the Managing Editor at How-To Geek. He has spent the last decade writing about Android, smartphones, and other mobile technology. In addition to his written work, he has also been a regular guest commentator on CBS News and BBC World News and Radio to discuss current events in the technology industry. Read more.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Spammers have found a way to add unwanted phishing and scam events to people’s Google Calendars without their permission. Here’s how to stop spammers from adding things to your calendar without your permission.

As detailed on OneZero by How-To Geek’s former Editor-in-Chief, Whitson Gordon, Google Calendar (by default) shows event invites whether the user has accepted them or not. Spammers are using the loophole to flood people’s calendars with malicious links and other derogatory text.

Stop Calendar From Adding Invites Automatically

One of Google Calendar’s default settings is to add event invites automatically to the calendar. To turn this off, click on the gear icon found in the top-right of the display and then select “Settings”.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Next, choose “Event settings” found in the left sidebar.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Locate the drop-down that’s labeled “Automatically add invitations”. Click on the arrow.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Lastly, select “No, only show invitations to which I have responded”.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Stop Calendar From Adding Events From Gmail

Google Calendar also pulls events directly from Gmail. If someone emails you an invite—sometimes even when it goes to the spam folder—it ends up on your calendar. To turn off this feature, head back into the Settings menu by clicking on the gear icon and selecting “Settings”.

Next, choose “Events from Gmail” from the left sidebar.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Uncheck the box next to “Automatically add events from Gmail to my calendar”.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Google Calendar will ask you to confirm this action. Click “OK” to approve the change.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Hide Declined Calendar Invites

If you’ve gone through and declined the spammy calendar events, they’ll still show up in Google Calendar but crossed out. The reason for this is that it continues to display declined events by default.

To turn the feature off, head back to Google Calendar’s Settings menu. As mentioned before, you get there by clicking on the gear icon and then selecting “Settings”.

Once there, choose “View options” located in the left sidebar.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Uncheck the box next to “Show declined events” to remove the diminished invites.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Hide Declined Events on Mobile

Oddly enough, when you decide to hide declined events from the desktop view, they still appear in the Android, iPhone, and iPad apps. If you want them not to be shown, launch the mobile app, open the overflow menu by tapping on the hamburger icon in the top-left corner, scroll down, and tap on “Settings”.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Lastly, toggle off “Show declined events”.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

A growing number of people online have been reporting this tactic being used to spam their Google Calendars. Google hasn’t released a response to the incidents at the time of this writing, but hopefully, some of these default settings get disabled in the future.

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How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar Justin Duino
Justin Duino is the Managing Editor at How-To Geek. He has spent the last decade writing about Android, smartphones, and other mobile technology. In addition to his written work, he has also been a regular guest commentator on CBS News and BBC World News and Radio to discuss current events in the technology industry.
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First, there was email spam. Then came text spam. Now, as more people use digital calendars on their computers and calendar apps on their mobile devices, many people get digital calendar spam. That means more clutter in our in-box from people we don’t know. Calendar invite spam has to stop.

A New Frontier For Spamming

Spammers are always looking for that way in to get their messages or links in front of more people. Now, they’ve found that they can take advantage of Google’s convenient email and calendar integration feature to inundate more people with their junk. Spammers previously went after Apple to exploit a similar calendar invite feature a few years ago.

Created as a way to help Google Calendar users save time with scheduling and meeting invites, the Google Calendar invite feature lets you automatically add meeting invites to your calendar. Although the meeting invite only appears as an outline until the recipient selects “yes” or “no,” the meeting invite still appears on a user’s Google Calendar.

The Calendar Invite Spam Threat is Real

Spammers have upped their game with this ploy. When a user clicks on the event description within that meeting invite, it reveals a spam message, which can have malicious links embedded in it. Spammers want users to cllick on those links, of course, because it can lead to the potential of capturing personal information. If a user does click on the link, it tells the spammer that it’s an active email account. From there, the spammer can inundate the user with unsolicited emails.

Except for the spammers, no one, including Google, is pleased with this new scheme. Google has reiterated its privacy policy and focus on protecting its users. Plus, the company has provided guidance on how to address calendar invite spam.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Google Calendar

There are some quick ways to shut down calendar spam notifications from within your Google Calendar.

  1. Open your Google Calendar.
  2. Click on the gear icon, which is located at the top of the Google Calendar page.
  3. Select “Settings” from this menu.
  4. Next, choose “Event settings” from the list located on the left side.
  5. Change the “Automatically add invitations” option to the other choice listed, which is “No, only show invitations to which I have responded.” This means a meeting will only be added to your Google Calendar if you accept the meeting invite.

This process should remove all calendar invite spam from your Google Calendar so you can stop wasting your time opening invites that aren’t real and minimize your risk for becoming a victim of something more malicious.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Microsoft Calendar

To remoe calendar invite spam from your Microsoft Calendar (Outlook), you need to remove the automatic meeting request process. Doing so will stop the meeting from showing up on your Microsoft Calendar in the first place. From there, you can delete the spam email in your inbox or opt to mark it as spam.

Although it’s a secure method for addressing calendar invite spam, it also means that none of your meeting requests, including all the legitimate meeting requests, will be processed until you click “accept” in the initial email invitation. This could mean you miss a meeting request, but it also cuts out the spam. Here’s how to remove the spam:

  1. In Outlook, go to File and then “Options.”
  2. Then, select “Mail” from the Options menu.
  3. In the Mail menu, choose “Tracking.”
  4. Under “Tracking,” deselect the option that says, “Automatically process meeting requests and responses to meeting requests and polls.”

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Apple Calendar

Although you can’t currently report and remove calendar spam on iPhone, iPad, and Mac except to just delete, Apple does have a process for handling this spam via iCloud.com, which may reduce it across all your Apple devices. Here’s how to address calendar invite spam from iCloud calendar:

  1. Go to iCloud on the web and log in from your desktop or laptop computer.
  2. Open the Calendar app once you are in your iCloud account.
  3. Open the spam event and then select “Report Junk.”
  4. Click “OK.”

When you report calendar spam through iCloud, it will also be removed from all Apple devices that are synced with your iCloud account.

How to Remove Calendar Spam from Your Yahoo Calendar

You may also receive calendar spam in your Yahoo Calendar. Yahoo has a very basic process for dealing with these spam Calendar invitations. Yahoo recommends treating the calendar invite spam like normal spam email by clicking the ‘spam’ button.

From there, you have to delete the individual event from your calendar separately. Choose the option that says “Delete” when clicking on the event. Don’t respond to the invitation itself or click any of the notifications within the invitation like where it says “Decline” because this will send a response to the spammer, which is exactly what you are trying to avoid. Then, you can also report calendar invite spam to Yahoo.

Remain Vigilant

Spammers will continue to “innovate” their exploitive tactics by studying new software and app features to get what they want. To slow the pace of spammers’ efforts and perhaps even discourage them, it’s important that we all remain vigilant when it comes to understanding and blocking their schemes.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Roughly 1.2 billion people across the world use Google Calendar. If you’re like many business owners, you use your calendar to keep track of both business and personal commitments. From your monthly staff meetings to your family’s extracurricular activities, Google’s ability to create and share multiple calendars makes it easy to use for a range of tasks. Of course, that also makes it easier for scammers to infiltrate.

What Calendar Spam Looks Like

If you have lots of important information on your calendar, you may not notice the spam right away. At first glance, it probably looks like any other reminder on your phone. The difference is it isn’t one you added. The reminder could be telling you to pick up your iPhone or might be inviting you to a random event that you have no recollection of. The spam comes in the form of a link as well. Those links can help the scammer collect vital information, such as logins and passwords. For this reason, it is very important not to click a link if you see something on your calendar that you don’t remember adding or discussing in the past.

How To Stop Scammers From Adding to Your Calendar

Luckily, you don’t have to stand idly by and wait for scammers to continue to infiltrate your calendar. Look to the top right of your screen when you’re viewing Google Calendar in your browser window. Click on it and click on “Settings.” On the next page, you’ll see a column on the left. Click on “Event Settings” and find the box that says, “Automatically add invitations.” From there, you can choose to only show invitations you’ve responded to on your calendar. In the same column, there will also be a row named “Events from Gmail.” You’ll also want to uncheck the box that automatically adds events from your Gmail account. However, when doing this, keep in mind that automatic additions, such as dinner invitations or flight information, won’t be added anymore.

Protecting Yourself in the Future

Of course, you’ll want to protect yourself from Google Calendar scammers in the future, which means ensuring anyone who has access to your calendar information knows how to protect themselves as well. Whether your employees can add important meetings to your calendar, or your spouse can add family events to it, they should know how to turn off automatic additions. Be sure everyone knows not to click on links they don’t remember adding to the calendar as well. By learning how to protect yourself from spam, you protect your personal information as well as that of your employees and clients.

Spammers have found a way to add unwanted phishing and scam events to people’s Google Calendars without their permission. Here’s how to stop spammers from adding things to your calendar without your permission.

As detailed on OneZero by How-To Geek’s former Editor-in-Chief, Whitson Gordon, Google Calendar (by default) shows event invites whether the user has accepted them or not. Spammers are using the loophole to flood people’s calendars with malicious links and other derogatory text.

Stop Calendar From Adding Invites Automatically

One of Google Calendar’s default settings is to add event invites automatically to the calendar. To turn this off, click on the gear icon found in the top-right of the display and then select “Settings”.

Next, choose “Event settings” found in the left sidebar.

Locate the drop-down that’s labeled “Automatically add invitations”. Click on the arrow.

Lastly, select “No, only show invitations to which I have responded”.

Stop Calendar From Adding Events From Gmail

Google Calendar also pulls events directly from Gmail. If someone emails you an invite—sometimes even when it goes to the spam folder—it ends up on your calendar. To turn off this feature, head back into the Settings menu by clicking on the gear icon and selecting “Settings”.

Next, choose “Events from Gmail” from the left sidebar.

Uncheck the box next to “Automatically add events from Gmail to my calendar”.

Google Calendar will ask you to confirm this action. Click “OK” to approve the change.

Hide Declined Calendar Invites

If you’ve gone through and declined the spammy calendar events, they’ll still show up in Google Calendar but crossed out. The reason for this is that it continues to display declined events by default.

To turn the feature off, head back to Google Calendar’s Settings menu. As mentioned before, you get there by clicking on the gear icon and then selecting “Settings”.

Once there, choose “View options” located in the left sidebar.

Uncheck the box next to “Show declined events” to remove the diminished invites.

Hide Declined Events on Mobile

Oddly enough, when you decide to hide declined events from the desktop view, they still appear in the Android, iPhone, and iPad apps. If you want them not to be shown, launch the mobile app, open the overflow menu by tapping on the hamburger icon in the top-left corner, scroll down, and tap on “Settings”.

Next, select “General”.

Lastly, toggle off “Show declined events”.

A growing number of people online have been reporting this tactic being used to spam their Google Calendars. Google hasn’t released a response to the incidents at the time of this writing, but hopefully, some of these default settings get disabled in the future.

Spam is annoying enough when it gets through filters and clutters up your inbox. But unwanted, unsolicited junk email is now starting to find its way into some users’ calendars, too.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

An example of a spam email with a meeting invite in Google Calendar

Spammers are now crafting new types of email messages that exploit a feature in Google’s email and calendar integration. The feature automatically adds meeting invites to your calendar. The meeting appears as an outline, until you accept it. But it is still added and displayed in your calendar.

Clicking the event description reveals the spam message, which often contain malicious links. The intent from those sending the junk mail hope users will click through to a specially crafted website. Doing so confirms the account the spam was sent to is active, which signals to the sender to add that account to more lists where users will subsequently start receiving more unsolicited emails.

The web page users are taken to after clicking often try to trick people into filling out forms, giving up personal information in the process. On some specially crafted websites, even something innocuous as hovering over an image can initiate malware to be downloaded to your computer or device. In most cases a site installs tracking cookies, which are not malicious but certainly raise privacy concerns.

In a recent interview, a Google spokesperson told ZDNet their terms of service prohibit people from using their services to spread malicious content. They also said they offer warnings of known malicious URLs to those who use their Chrome web browser.

“We remain deeply committed to protecting all of our users from spam,” the spokesperson said. “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.”

How to remove spam from Google Calendar

The good news for Google Calendar users is that a simple option can help stop the spam, but still keep most of the functionality. Here’s how you can change them in three simple steps.

  1. Click the Gear at the top of the Google Calendar page and choose “settings.”
  2. Select “Event settings” from the list on the left.
  3. Change the “Automatically add invitations” option to “No, only show invitations to which I have responded” from the list.

Changing this setting will still add a meeting to your calendar, but only after you accept the meeting invitation. For Gmail users, this can be performed from the subject line without having to open the email.

Calendar spam is not new

While Google Calendar spam is growing, spamming meeting invitations in online calendars is not new. Spammers were able to exploit a similar Apple feature in 2016. Like the Google Calendar spam, a simple iCloud setting change is all that is needed to remedy the loophole. In a case noted by ZDNet, a calendar notification for Ray-Ban Black Friday pricing popped up on some phones and people who clicked the event became victims of credit card theft.

Hackers and spammers are constantly evolving as they attempt to exploit features and apps people use on a daily basis. When it comes to apps and services, free doesn’t always mean free.

Spammers have found a way to add unwanted phishing and scam events to users’ Google calendars without their consent. This will prevent spammers from adding things to your agenda without your permission.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

At this point, you are probably looking for possible phishing messages in your email. You know the procedure: If you have any doubts, do not click on the links or download the attachments. This is already difficult enough to follow in practice. Thanks to the Kaspersky threat research company’s new findings, as well as phishing texts, phishing tweets and phishing pop-ups, you now have another thing to worry about: Phishing in your calendar.

Phishers have realized that they can use the seemingly harmless settings of the calendar to place their own events with phishing links on the victims’ agenda. In many cases, it also automatically triggers notifications, which further legitimizes malicious events. Scams are particularly effective because calendar entries and notifications come from trusted applications such as Google Calendar.

The attack simply comes from crooks who send a wave of calendar events to Google Calendar users. The goal is to use the default setting that target calendars automatically add each event and send a notification about it. Scammers therefore preload the text from the event entry with a phishing link and a short line to make the targets click.

To prevent the Calendar from automatically adding invitations

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

This prevents your calendar from automatically adding calendar invites:

  1. Go to the Settings menu by clicking on the icon at the top right of the calendar page, then selecting “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
  2. Select Event Settings from the left sidebar.
  3. Click on the “Automatically add invitations” page.
  4. From the drop-down menu, select “No, only display invitations to which I have replied”.

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You can also prevent it from adding events from Gmail by going to the Preferences menu and clicking Go:

  • Select “Gmail Events” from the left sidebar.
  • Uncheck the box “Automatically add Gmail events to my calendar”.

Again, it’s a kind of all or nothing, so if you like this feature, you might not want to change your settings before calendar spam becomes a problem.

However, if calendar spam already gives you a headache, this can be a quick and easy way to solve it.

Stop Calendar From Adding Events From Gmail

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Google Calendar also pulls events directly from Gmail. When someone sends you an invitation – sometimes even when it goes into the spam folder – it arrives in your calendar. To disable this function, return to the Settings menu by clicking on the report icon and selecting Settings.

  1. Then select “Gmail Events” from the left sidebar.
  2. Uncheck the box “Automatically add Gmail events to my calendar”.
  3. Google Calendar will ask you to confirm this action. Click OK to confirm the change.

Hide Declined Events

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

If you have had spam invitations in the past, but are tired of seeing the crossed-out entries, you can get rid of them by using the following method:

  • Go to “View Options” in the left menu.
  • Make sure that the “Show rejected events” option is not checked.

Unfortunately, this does not affect the way you view rejected events on your phone. To ensure that rejected events do not appear on your phone:

  • Select the three parallel lines at the top left of the calendar to display the side menu.
  • Scroll down and select “Settings”.
  • Select “General”.
  • Look for “Show declined events” and make sure it is disabled.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

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Many spam trends are cyclical: Spammers tend to switch tactics when one method of hijacking your time and attention stops working. But periodically they circle back to old tricks, and few spam trends are as perennial as calendar spam, in which invitations to click on dodgy links show up unbidden in your digital calendar application from Apple, Google and Microsoft. Here’s a brief primer on what you can do about it.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Over the past few weeks, a good number of readers have written in to say they feared their calendar app or email account was hacked after noticing a spammy event had been added to their calendars.

The truth is, all that a spammer needs to add an unwelcome appointment to your calendar is the email address tied to your calendar account. That’s because the calendar applications from Apple, Google and Microsoft are set by default to accept calendar invites from anyone.

Calendar invites from spammers run the gamut from ads for porn or pharmacy sites, to claims of an unexpected financial windfall or “free” items of value, to outright phishing attacks and malware lures. The important thing is that you don’t click on any links embedded in these appointments. And resist the temptation to respond to such invitations by selecting “yes,” “no,” or “maybe,” as doing so may only serve to guarantee you more calendar spam.

Fortunately, the are a few simple steps you can take that should help minimize this nuisance. To stop events from being automatically added to your Google calendar:

-Open the Calendar application, and click the gear icon to get to the Calendar Settings page.
-Under “Event Settings,” change the default setting to “No, only show invitations to which I have responded.”

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

To prevent events from automatically being added to your Microsoft Outlook calendar, click the gear icon in the upper right corner of Outlook to open the settings menu, and then scroll down and select “View all Outlook settings.” From there:

-Click “Calendar,” then “Events from email.”
-Change the default setting for each type of reservation settings to “Only show event summaries in email.”

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

For Apple calendar users, log in to your iCloud.com account, and select Calendar.

-Click the gear icon in the lower left corner of the Calendar application, and select “Preferences.”
-Click the “Advanced” tab at the top of the box that appears.
-Change the default setting to “Email to [your email here].”

Making these changes will mean that any events your email provider previously added to your calendar automatically by scanning your inbox for certain types of messages from common events — such as making hotel, dining, plane or train reservations, or paying recurring bills — may no longer be added for you. Spammy calendar invitations may still show up via email; in the event they do, make sure to mark the missives as spam.

Have you experienced a spike in calendar spam of late? Or maybe you have another suggestion for blocking it? If so, sound off in the comments below.

Every now and then, I look at my Google Calendar and see a bunch of random invites to video chats with people I've never met. Recently, my colleague noticed that her calendar was flooded for "invites" that automatically appeared on her calendar and said she had won a free iPhone.

Yes, Google Calendar spam is a thing, and a quick search through Twitter revealed hundreds of complaints in recent weeks. The spam looks like this:

It's tough to avoid, since the events are based on spam messages sent to your Gmail inbox, but there are some ways to prevent it from cluttering up your calendar.

Here's what to do.

How to stop Google Calendar spam

  • Open Google Calendar by going to Calendar.Google.com.
  • Tap the settings cog on the top-right of the page and select Settings.
  • Choose "Event Settings."
  • Change the option that says "Automatically add invitations" from "Yes" to "No, only show invitations to which I have responded."
  • Now scroll down the page to the section titled "View Options" and uncheck the box that says "Show declined events." This prevents Google Calendar from showing spam that you've declined.

If you use Google Calendar on your phone, double check the settings inside the app to make sure that the changes have been applied.

This should help prevent a lot of calendar spam that you get, but you may still get some. In my colleague's case, for example, the events on her calendar suggested that she had already accepted them, which means invitations still appeared. Delete one of them, then choose to delete all future events, and you should see them completely removed.

Spammers have found a new way to spam you through Google Calendar.

How to stop spammers from attacking your google calendar

Keep spammers out of Gmail and Google Calendar.

Isn’t spam in your Gmail inbox bad enough? Apparently not. Spammers are now invading your Google Calendar, using Gmail messages to trigger Google Calendar invitations. The spamming exploit takes advantage of the integration between Gmail and Calendar to send you fraudulent invitations that may contain a message with malicious links. Fortunately, you can prevent these spammers from blowing up your calendar through your Google Calendar settings.

Google Calendar has a setting that lets you see only the invitations you’ve responded to. So if there’s a sneaky email lurking in your spam folder set to trigger a spammy calendar event, it won’t show up on your calendar anymore. Instead, you’ll accept all of your other meetings and events through Gmail, rather than automatically seeing them on your calendar.

Here’s how to get started.

This is an example of a spammer in Google Calendar.

Screenshot by Katie Conner/CNET

1. Open Google Calendar on your desktop.

2. Click the gear icon at the top right of the screen.

3. Click Settings.

4. Tap the reveal arrow next to General on the left-hand side of the screen to view Calendar options.

5. Tap Event settings.

6. Tap on Automatically add invitations event settings to the right, then select No, only show invitations to which I have replied.

That’s it! Now Google Calendar will prevent spam mail from triggering invitations in your calendar.