Tech

Instructions: get rid of spam in Google Calendar and other services

The problem is old, but complaints do not stop – a new wave of spam began in the spring of 2019.

Since 2016, scammers have been using email service calendars to send users invitations to events that include advertising of irrelevant services and goods.

In most cases, invitations are automatically added to the calendars associated with the mail, and users receive push notifications of new letters and events. Fraudsters act in waves – a new period of activity occurred in April-May 2019.

Briefly about how to fix it.

Google Calendar

Gmail and Google Calendar users have discovered a bug related to invitations to calendar events used by cybercriminals. They send out letters to Gmail with invitations, which contain an advertising mailing with the site address.

An invitation letter is defined as spam, but the service’s algorithms “see” the invitation and automatically add it to the calendar associated with the Google account and send out notifications. There are several ways to get rid of this.

Spam removal

  • If newsletters come from a small number of addresses, they can be sent to spam – deleting one event in the calendar will clear the entire calendar of events from this addressee. To do this, open the web version of Google Calendar , open the spam event with a double click and select “More actions” → “Mark as spam”.
  • If invitations are sent from different addresses, and there is nothing valuable in the calendar, it may be worth deleting it and creating a new one. Open the web version of Google Calendar, then Settings. Select the desired calendar from the list on the left, then click “Delete Calendar” → “Delete” → “Delete Forever”.

How to protect yourself from new invitations

When discussing a problem with Google tech support, we recommend that you turn off the automatic addition of invitations from Gmail to Calendar. To do this, in the“Calendar” settings you need:

  • In the “General” → “Events” section, find the item “Automatically add invitations” and select “No, show only invitations to which an answer has already been sent”, and also uncheck “Show declined events”.
  • In the “Events from Gmail” section, disable the option “Automatically add events from Gmail to the calendar.”

Disabling the automatic addition of events will disable both spam and information about booked hotels and flights, users specify.

In addition, the proposed measures may not be enough – if activities continue to be added, additional steps are needed.

  • In the calendar settings, delete the options “Letter to mail” and “Notification” in the section “Notifications about events”.
  • Turn on the filters. To do this, select the option “Filter similar letters” in an open letter, specify a keyword, for example, “casino”, and select the action – archive or delete the letter matching the filter. It works the same for Outlook.

Google hangouts

In addition to Gmail, spammers attack the Hangouts video conferencing service, for example, create group chats with private broadcasts of girls or directly call users.

To reduce the likelihood of receiving spam in the service, you need:

  • Launch the web version of Hangouts and open the “Settings” in the left side menu.
  • Select the option “Configure invitations”, disable the option “Notify about invitations” and indicate that only those who know the mail or phone number can send invitations. Invitations will be sent to Gmail – emails will automatically be sent to spam, and filters can be configured for exceptions.

Microsoft Outlook

The Outlook mail service also has the function of automatically adding air tickets, events and other events to the built-in calendar. Microsoft’s spam problems on the calendar are rare and were mostly mentioned in 2016.

To disable automatic event adding in Outlook:

  • Open the web version of the service and select the full version of the settings through the menu in the upper right corner of the screen.
  • Choose Calendar → Events from Messages → Automatically Add Events from Email to My Calendar.

The filters for emails in Outlook are configured in a manner similar to Gmail .

At the time of writing this article in Outlook, there is no way to mark an event as spam – you need to delete it separately. You can also configure filters in the mail – they are set in the “Parameters” of the mail in the “Mail” → “Rules” section.

Apple

Apple users also have problems with spammers – scammers can send advertising and phishing offers to their calendar on Macbooks and iOS devices.

Spam removal

If the calendar has a suspicious or promotional offer, you need to click the “Report spam” button, Apple recommends . After that, the event will be automatically deleted from the calendar on all devices that are signed in with Apple ID.

How to protect yourself from new invitations

  • Go to iOS in “Settings” → “Privacy” → “Calendar” and check for suspicious applications.
  • Disable the function “Offers places”. To do this, go to “Settings” → “Calendar”.
  • Open “Settings” → “Passwords and accounts” and check for which accounts calendar synchronization is configured.
  • Log in to your iCloud web version account , launch “Calendar”, select “Settings” in the lower left corner and in the “Advanced” settings in the “Invitations” section, switch “Built-in notifications” to “Email messages”.


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