Following an increasing number of reports over the weekend both in the media and in online forums, Apple has acknowledged that there is an issue with calendar entry spam in iOS on both the iPhone and iPad, but as yet there is no timescale on addressing the issue.
Apple’s iCal system allows unauthenticated invites to events to be sent to users. This has resulted in iOS users receiving notifications on their iPhones and iPads to make a date to buy items such as Ugg Boots and Rayban sunglasses. With a limited number of options, most users are ignoring the invites and refusing to give the spammers the confirmation that the address they hold is valid. Others are moving the entries to ‘junk’ calendars and deleting them en masse.
No matter the MacGyvered solutions, each piece of incoming calendar spam is harming the user experience on iOS. Apple’s response acknowledges the problem and hints at its first choice for a solution… working to prevent spam reaching the iCal clients:
We are sorry that some of our users are receiving spam calendar invitations. We are actively working to address this issue by identifying and blocking suspicious senders and spam in the invites being sent.
As with any spam trap, the success of the automated system relies on the ability to train the system. For the moment this means Apple’s engineers will need to provide enough data so bogus invites can be recognized. I would expect that in the future the ability to mark calendar invites as spam will be added to the iOS application. If that is the case, expect the next update to iOS 10 to add in a ‘report’ button when acknowledging invites.