For more than 40 years internet criminals have been sending out spam emails. Numbers continue to rise from year to year, and email providers are having to use stronger and stronger filters to protect their customers.
Email services provider GMX claims that its system has a high detection rates of more than 99 percent. That’s why spammers are constantly having to change their methods to make sure they reach their victims’ inboxes.
And now a new type of spam is on the rise: fake appointments, or ‘calendar spam’ that ends up in the inbox and calendar at the same time. To protect its users, GMX is now offering the ability to remove this calendar spam with a single click.
The double threat of this new spam method is that instead of just sending an email, as with conventional spam, calendar spam sends unwanted appointments as well. These can attack in three ways: The first time is when an appointment invitation is sent by email to the inbox; the second time is when it’s an entry in the calendar; and the third time is if the appointment contains a reminder function.
“Currently, calendar spam accounts for seven percent of all digital appointment invitations – and this figure is rising. If, for example, you receive special ‘discounts,’ or the sender is unknown, then users should be extremely skeptical,” said Jan Oetjen, managing director of GMX.
In terms of content, there is no difference to classic email spam: Internet criminals use fake dates to spread malware, links to phishing sites or unwanted advertising.
Protection against calendar spam
Most unsolicited emails are sorted by email providers directly into users’ spam folders. If a spam mail does slip through the filter, the user can simply mark it as spam or delete it – and the problem is gone. However, it’s not that easy with calendar spam. It’s obvious that you shouldn’t accept or confirm the appointment under any circumstances. But even a rejection is a bad idea.
While the calendar entry may disappear, the sender will at the same time be notified that the spam ‘fake date’ has reached the recipient and that the email address associated with the calendar is actually being used. This increases the probability that spam will now be sent to the email address more frequently.
To protect its users, GMX has now integrated a feature into its calendar to remove calendar spam with just one click. If you receive a fake appointment, all you have to do is mark it as “spam”. The unwanted entry then disappears immediately, without the sender receiving any information about it.
Getting rid of calendar spam from an email client
GMX already offers a feature to remove calendar spam quickly and effectively. But what if you use your GMX address with a third-party email client, such as Outlook? Some email programs do not yet offer this service, but with the following trick, users can still get rid of calendar spam.
First create a new calendar. Then move the calendar spam entry to this new calendar and finally, delete the newly created calendar including the spam ‘fake date’.
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