If it’s already difficult to keep your busy Google Calendar organized, then get ready – hackers have another exploit that allows them to send you spam through your calendar. This problem applies to Google Calendar users whose accounts privacy settings allow others to see it, whether by sharing or making it public. That said, anyone with a Google Calendar account, or anyone about to open a new Calendar account might think twice about what privacy settings you select.
“If your account is one of the thousands of public accounts, then anyone can view it. It can even be seen by doing a Google search.”
If your account is one of the thousands of public accounts, then anyone can view it. It can even be seen by doing a Google search. Your sensitive information and event details can be collected and used to impersonate you, steal your accounts, or create new accounts in your name. Information that can be accessed includes event names and descriptions, locations, Google Hangout links, meeting links, presentation links, and much more.
It is worth noting that this problem is a consequence of a useful collaboration feature. The public option was first released 12 years ago and was originally designed to make it easier to find interesting events around town. However, since there is a lack of awareness over who can view events it poses a security threat. It is all too easy to lose sight of the public nature of the account and add private information thinking it will never be seen.
Managing Google Calendar Spam
When an account is public anyone is able to send invitations to it. This is something that scammers take advantage of by sending event invitation spam. Google Calendar spam is something that seems to be on the rise lately, and has all of the same problems that email spam has: too many invites, stealing personal information, scams, and etc. Just like email spam it is never a good idea to click on links inside a Calendar invite if you don’t know the sender.
Part of the problem comes from Google’s convenient way of automatically adds invites to your calendar even without accepting it. This means that a Google Calendar can become cluttered with unauthorized invites unless you take action.
The easiest way to eliminate unauthorized invites is the following:
- Event Settings > under “Default guest permissions” select “No, only show invitations to which I have responded”
- Then scroll down to where it says “View Options” and uncheck the option that says “Show declined events”
The good news is that Google has said it is working on a fix for the Calendar spam problem, so with any luck this issue could be resolved soon. If you would like to report spam then Google provides a place to do so.
A Modern Reality
On the modern internet data is the new currency, and scammers will try everything to get yours. It is recommended that you only share your calendar with people you know. If however, you find yourself overwhelmed with spam you can always reach out to the friendly IT staff at Next Horizon for help.