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article imageApple responds to calendar spam with new 'report junk' button

By James Walker     Dec 12, 2016 in Technology
Apple has officially acknowledged the waves of spam invitations currently plaguing its iCloud calendar service. The company has launched a new feature that allows users to report the junk and remove it from their calendar. It is available now online.
The spam problem arises from an iCloud feature that lets anyone send event invitations to email addresses. When Apple's automated systems scan the email and detect an invitation, it'll automatically be added to your calendar. This allows scammers to set up fake event invitations and distribute them using email lists.
iCloud displays two buttons when a new event is received. You can accept it and add it to your calendar or reject it. Rejecting the invitation removes it from your calendar but still alerts the sender. The scammers use this as an indication of whether the email address is active. Regardless of what button you select, pressing either will mean more spam is delivered in the future.
Reports of fraudsters using the method date back several years. Recently, the problem has got a lot worse though. Over the Black Friday period, scammers widely distributed fake sale alerts and bargain invitations. There are workarounds available that let you remove the events without responding but these are cumbersome to use.
Users and cybersecurity experts have called on Apple to add a new "ignore" button that lets you delete the event without contacting the sender. Today, it delivered the next best thing, quietly debuting a "report junk" feature that lets you flag unwanted invitations up to the company itself.
The button is currently available online at iCloud.com. It's understood it will be added to the iOS Calendar app in a future update. Pressing the button removes the invitation from your calendar and sends a copy to Apple. Apple can then block the sender if it finds the event to be fake.
Apple's response will be welcomed by iCloud users who have faced waves of spam over the past few weeks. Apple had previously pledged to take action on the issue and identify the people behind the notifications.
"We are sorry that some of our users are receiving spam calendar invitations," Apple said in a statement last month. "We are actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent."
The feature can be used now on the iCloud.com calendar web app. The "Report Junk" button can be found by selecting an event on the calendar to view its details. Under the "from" section, you'll see the "Report Junk" button displayed beneath a "This sender is not in your contacts" message if the event is from someone you haven't interacted with before.
Apple hasn't publicly commented on the feature's launch. It's expected to bring the button to the native calendar apps on iOS and macOS in the near future. The company could make an official announcement after completing the wider rollout.
More about Apple, icloud, ical, Calendar, Spam
 
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