If you haven’t see the headlines, and don’t own an Apple device, you may have misses one of the latest trends in spam, iCloud calendar spam.
When you open your phone or tablet and look at the calendar you will see something similar to this:
You might be tempted at this point to click Decline and move on with life. There is a problem with that, when you do, it let’s the spammer know that your email address is valid and then they move you from the “test” list to the “verified” list. This verified list can be used to send out new spams that they know will be received or sold to other spammers, or both.
Let’s start with how the spammer sends these out. The first thing they do is compile a list of email addresses. Many of these are purchased online. They could also compile a list they harvested using programs that scour the internet looking for email address in web pages, news posts, comments, and blogs. Lastly they could have used a program that randomly makes up email addresses for known domains (which can be downloaded online as well).
Once they have the list they create an iCloud account and open the calendar. Click on the calendar to create a new event and start adding invitees:
Click OK and iCloud will sent the even to all the people you have added. They can continue to do this (or automate it on a device connected to an iCloud account) and send out hundreds or thousands of invitations a day. As the invitations are accepted or declined they can mark that email address as active and continue the process.
The problem here is that if you click Accept, Maybe, or Decline (your only choices), you have verified your email address and basically sent the spammer an invitation to spam you some more. And they absolutely will take you up on that offer.
So how can you get rid of the event without letting them know when there is no delete option for the event?
Start by tapping on Calendars on the bottom of the main calendar screen:
Now tap Edit in the upper left corner:
Tap Add Calendar:
And type in a name for the new calendar such as Spam. Go back to the calendar event and look at the bottom of it:
Tap over on the right of the word Calendar to open the panel where you can change the calendar this event is on:
Select the Spam calendar and then tap the back arrow in the upper left hand corner. Now tap the arrow in the upper left hand corner again which should take you back to the main calendar screen. Tap Calendars on the bottom of the screen:
Now tap the i symbol on the right hand side of the Spam calendar:
Scroll down to the bottom of this page and tap Delete Calendar.
Yeah, that is kind of a pain but until Apple gives us a way to delete calendar entries without having to notify the person who invited us it will have to do.