Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed


Forgot your password?

Death by Google Calendar 101

the_harlequin writes "Ok, so the title is a little extreme, but it's a possibility. The link gives an example of how easy it is to obtain information about someone who uses Google Calendar, and is unaware of what they're allowing the world to see."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Death by Google Calendar

Comments Filter:
  • by PrinceAshitaka ( 562972 ) * on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:21AM (#16037597) Homepage
    So I should be fine if I simply add some fake reoccurring classes to my calendar. I think I am going to "fake" take up some firearms classes and some marshal arts. It will also not hurt to add something else like, Tuesdays I will have a "fake" pit bull owners club. Or I could just not put flight information in my calendar.
    • You can avoid this entirely by simply marking your calendar as "private," or "share with friends only."

      This person isn't hacking google, he's simply viewing public calendars. If your calendar isn't public, there's no problem.

      Check TFA.
      • Thank you, I was aware of that. I did RTFA. I was just trying to be facetious. I guess I failed.
        • Oop, sorry. I did like the bit about the pit bulls =)
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by einexile ( 159759 )
            LOL thanks for posting all those hilarious comments guys! They really made my morning one big laugh fest.

            I always know I can rely on Slashdot to lift my spirits with the crazy, unpredictable observations of the web's finest aspiring humorists.

            An extra special thanks to TFA for driving home the ancient bloody obvious while helping the less informed among us to live in fear. Not enough people live in fear these days or structure their lifestyles around paranoid stalker fantasies! If only more folks would tune
        • Thank you, I was aware of that. I did RTFA. You must be new here.
      • Sooner or later some famous person or other will be stalked, it will become national news and we will all learn about the evils of "public" calenders.

        Meanwhile, the article IMO misses an important point, that all this information is stored somewhere, and that in and of itself is a liability.
      • by rm69990 ( 885744 )
        I've taken this blogger's scheme to make ad dollars and simplified it even more.

        1) Write a Blog entry detailing how I can "hack" a website by typing in the URL of said website and viewing publ....erm...."private" web content.
        2) Place Adsense on said blog
        3) Submit article showing this ultra-cool top secret hack to Slashdot.
        4) Slashdot's monkeys begin the review process
        5) ?????
        6) PROFIT!!!

        Did we really need a front page story telling how if you post your friggin calendar information on an internet service, an
        • by rm69990 ( 885744 )
          Ummm, whoops. He mentioned at the end of the article that this only applies to public calendars. Mod my parent comment down if you wish.
    • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      If you spell it "marshal" arts, you will probably give your secret away.
    • by phoenix321 ( 734987 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:55AM (#16037765)
      Or better yet: take some real firearms classes. If they visit your house while you're away it's just property damage. A couple of hundred bucks you insurance will gladly repay if you agree to spend your share on improved locks and security measures. You'll feel unsafe for a while after being burglarized, but that goes away with time. After all, it's only a monetary loss, maybe a small insurance quarrel and a sturdier door you get.

      But you shouldn't need to worry about money you lose, as 99 out of 100 common burglars don't know jack about teh Intarnet and will visit you anyway, at night if you are away or not. And that's where the hairy part begins and those firearm lessons will come in extremely handy. A burglar in the same house with you, your wife/husband/partner, and kids and grandma and the family dog, is something totally entirely different. Your children may come out unharmed if you bend over and spread, but your dog is either large enough or toast. Think of the dogs, please.

      First: put an NRA sticker on your car, if you like and can stand being looked-down-on occasionally. Second: pretend to be interested in guns and order a for-free gun catalogue from somewhere. The resulting self-defense-centered bulk mail you receive might make an impression sometimes. Third: obtain empty rifle and handgun shells and disperse them liberally around your outside property. Not too much, you are no dangerous neighbor, remember. But two or three empty cartridges will make a bold impression on people in the violent businesses. Criminals want easy prey or easy opportunities, otherwise they'd be in the Rat Race like you and me, by the way. And any criminal who sees a clue on a potentially gun-hoarding, concealed-carrying, full-auto-skilled, hard-hitting, M249SAW-under-the-pillow-hiding expert-marksmanly Redneck will wait at least until the house is empty. In which case it's just property damage, again. Not unless you have a vulgar display of wealth in the middle of Somalia...
      • Take out your trust old British .303 rifle, load it up, and have some target practice with all those geese in your yard... I betcha no one will come around any time soon!
      • put an NRA sticker on your car

        Someone's taking this advice. Last week I saw a Prius with a NRA Lifetime Member sticker on it.
      • by jonadab ( 583620 )
        Along these same lines...

        Tie one end of a twenty-foot heavy chain to a tree in your backyard, and make a mess of everything within reach of the other end: kill all the grass, pack down the dirt, dig holes, and so forth. Arrange the chain so that the loose end of it is up by the house, not far from the back door.

        Get on ebay and look for the biggest, oldest, nastiest used dogfood dish you can find, preferably something sturdy made of metal with large dents, or at least a large sturdy plastic dish with some
    • by sco08y ( 615665 )
      I think I am going to "fake" take up some firearms classes and some marshal arts. It will also not hurt to add something else like, Tuesdays I will have a "fake" pit bull owners club.

      Why not really take an NRA firearms class? But if you want to go the kung fu route, it's spelled "martial."
  • Bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Iron (III) Chloride ( 922186 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:22AM (#16037602)
    Any calendar site can be exploited in this way. As with many aspects of computer usage, user intelligence (posting info w/discretion) and proper privacy settings (think Facebook here) is all that's necessary. I say this is a non-issue, especially for hopefully more-intelligent /. nerds.
    • Any calendar site can be exploited in this way.
      Who needs the calendar? Just walk our your front door, pick somebody at random, and start following them around. You can get all this same information. For instance, "I can tell when she'll be out of her house, oooh, scary." Or just watch somebody pull out of their driveway and conclude that they're no longer home.
      • You're correct; this is a possibility. I think the point of the article is that
        now that information is available about a large sample of people without
        so much as leaving your house.

        • I think that point is wrong. With an online calendar you have to hunt around to try and potential target in your area. If you're lucky the person you find isn't a college student who's $30 DVD player is the most expensive thing they own.

          Using the traditional method you pick from any of the many nearby residences that look like good targets and you just wait for them to leave. I can't imagine any advantage one would gain by using random people's online calendars.
    • Heaven forbid we care about our friends and family that aren't computer literate. Heaven forbid those of us who are responsible for networks at work might want to educate those who use our networks. Heaven forbid we educate those rubes who subsidize all of our technological fetishes.
  • A little extreme?
    It should be "Hey, you know, if you publish all your day tasks with all the information, I can use it it for something"
    It nothing new. It's just as if a eleven-years-old published his home address in some website - it's known to be done, it's stupid, and the eleven year old is responsible for it.
    Same here. If you publish everything, it mean I can see everything, and I can use everything. Duh.
    • by Phroggy ( 441 ) *
      It's just as if a eleven-years-old published his home address in some website - it's known to be done, it's stupid, and the eleven year old is responsible for it.

      Perhaps you mean, the eleven-year-old's parents are responsible for allowing the eleven-year-old to use the Internet unsupervised without first educating the child about basic safety rules.

      You shouldn't let your children play in a public park without first teaching them not to take candy from strangers...
  • by yagu ( 721525 ) * <> on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:22AM (#16037604) Journal

    I don't know the answer to, "should we expect more crime?" because of the internet. There are stories in the news about molesters and the internet, but is the internet merely a different avenue for crime? Or does it open floodgates for increased crime?

    I don't know that I've seen overwhelming evidence the crime rates have surged -- makes me wonder, is there some expected value for crime rates, regardless of the mechanism? This would make for an interesting study -- to date what I've seen is mostly anecdotal.

    The example cited in the article is interesting, but I wonder that it really changes tactics -- a thief, a burglar, usually works on opportunity, and someone's calendar is as reliable in determining what a "household" is doing as the person maintaining that calendar.... My experience has been people maintaining calendars accurately, not so much.

    On the uncertainty alone, a criminal would still have to case a target on the chance a calendar entry was inaccurate, an event was canceled but not taken off the calendar, etc.

    Credit to the author for giving instructions to make Google calendars private -- an option with which I strongly agree...

    • The REAL question is, so what if it does? I'm more than willing to take the increased risks required in everyday life if it means I get to use the internet, which saves me lots of time.

      Besides, now I don't have to leave my mom's basement^H^H^H my house anymore for anything other than food! I'm much safer this way, right?
    • There are stories in the news about molesters and the internet, but is the internet merely a different avenue for crime? Or does it open floodgates for increased crime?

      The great thing about Internet crime is that you don't have to even set foot outside the house. In the bad old days of analogue crime you had to go rummaging through hotel dustbins and the like in order to steal somone's identity. Or, you had to go along to a fleamarket with your knock-off dodgy goods and risk the long arm of the law nabbin

    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      I don't know the answer to, "should we expect more crime?" because of the internet.

      I do, there'll be less random crime 'cause of the better intelligence.
      Modern internet enabled crime will be properly targetted, just the way the Il Capo di Capi always wanted it.

      The trigger happy Slashdotters that recommend fake or real indications of arms in the house will be pleased to note that your local criminal is thankful for the warning and bring his own armor.

    • Actually, the statistics show that crime has been on a steady decline since around the time the internet started to become big. I am not claiming any connection between the decline in crime and the internet, but it is clearly not surging crime like crazy. Just like everything, the internet can be used as a tool for a criminal, but it does not a criminal make.

      Also, as with almost all Slashdot articles lately, this is a ridiculous article. There are much easier ways to find a target. If you want to kno
  • by Ruff_ilb ( 769396 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:22AM (#16037605) Homepage
    First of all, I'd like to point out that this trick only works IF you set your calendar to share with the entire world. This is in no way a way to 'hack' google, as it were.

    Furthermore, in the real world, this is very likely rediculous. If I'm a criminal, what are the chances that I'm going to find someone in my area that uses google calendar on a regular basis, AND has a trip or event planned with specific times that tell me when they're going to be out of the house.

    If I were trying to steal something, it would be much easier to just get in my car, cruise around, find a house that looks empty, bump/pick the lock, walk in, and take stuff.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by xtracto ( 837672 )
      in the real world, this is very likely rediculous. If I'm a criminal, what are the chances that I'm going to find someone in my area that uses google calendar on a regular basis, AND has a trip or event planned with specific times that tell me when they're going to be out of the house.

      The chances keep getting greater and greater. As the article said, not only GOOGLE calendars but all other information pusblishing page. I find interesting how easly people share their personal information via webpages. Even s
    • I am not a criminal but I disagree with your logic. Finding people who live in your city who share their online calendar is not a problem (at least not if you live in a major city in the U.S.). And finding a house that you KNOW will be empty for the next hour or two seems to me to be invaluable. Being caught red-handed is a sure-fire way to either go to jail or escalate the robbery to murder (or both).
    • by Sancho ( 17056 )
      There are all sorts of reasons to target people who use Google:

      1) They probably have a computer. That they are using Google Calendar means that they are probably /slightly/ more geeky than the average person, so they probably have other electronics.

      2) They use it to plan /events/ which are probably not at their /home/.

      Also, try logging into Google Calendar and searching for whatever city you live in. For me, Houston, TX showed a bunch of people, many with full names and travel/event schedules that they pl
      • Well, it's true that I live in a small town. I searched google calendar for events happening in my town, and I got zero results... I mean, I'm by no means out in the boonies (40K person college town, approximately), so there's plenty of tech here.

        But you're right. I hadn't fully considered the implications for large cities.
    • In the TBG (time before google) my mother-in-law died. The funeral was out of town and the stupid, stupid newspaper printed this fact along with the dates and times of the wake and funeral AND HER ADDRESS. When we got back her house looked like Christmas morning after the Grinch had come to town. I'm surprised they didn't steal the wallpaper off the wall; they certainly had enough time.

      I could easily see something like this happening, even in a small town like we were in.

  • pool party? (Score:5, Funny)

    by gEvil (beta) ( 945888 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:23AM (#16037608)
    Anyone wanna crash Daisy's all girl pool party?
  • Of course... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Transcendent ( 204992 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:23AM (#16037609)
    ...this is only true if you're "smart" enough to publicly share the calendar with everyone.

    By default the caldendar is unshared, so the fault is in the end user.
    • by Sancho ( 17056 )
      Right. This guy is trying to get people to not do that, or at least think about what they're posting before they do.
    • Not only is your calendar private by default, but if you go in to settings and make it public, it gives you the following warning/confirmation: []

      Voluntarily and explicitly choosing to reveal data to the world isn't a security hole. Being aware of what you say and who you say it to is part of a person's personal responsibility whether they're talking on teh phone in a public place or blogging while on vacation, telling the world what a great time they're having thousands
  • bah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:26AM (#16037619)
    always bullshit when i hear things like this.. its like when the dumb ass that wrote that Google Documentary and made them look like the biggest most horrible big brother company thats out there, all because of how powerful Google Earth is.. FOR SHAME GOOGLE for allowing terrorists to pinpoint locations!! oh come-the-fuck-on.. every bit of satellite imagery that's out there has nothing to even do with google.. governments and scientists work together in providing PUBLIC geographic data.. Google simple is one of the very few people that actually use it..
    • by Pieroxy ( 222434 )
      WHAT ????? Do you mean Google allows terrorists to use Google MAP ?????

      That is just incredible... They're no better than those pirates downloading MP3s... Helping terrorists spread in our beloved countries!!! Even worse! funding their movement!!!

      We should killl them all.

      X ;-)
  • by neonprimetime ( 528653 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:26AM (#16037622)
    I have this same problem at work with co-workers and Lotus Notes too. They can see everything I put on my calendar by default, unless I purposely block stuff and make it unreadable to them.
    • I just set my available time to 12:45 am to 1:00 am. It cuts down on those annoying meeting requests. Of course, I'll be screwed if some joker decides to have 15 minute meeting in the middle of the night, but I'm betting that won't happen anytime soon :)
    • by CHR1S ( 694833 )
      The Google Calendar is private by default so you have a completely different problem. I never had problems with people at my office being able to view my work calendar but I feel for you since you are using Lotus Notes.
  • by Easy2RememberNick ( 179395 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:28AM (#16037626)
    "I find it...utterly stupid that people display their lives online..."

      Such as a blog?
  • obligatory... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thelost ( 808451 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:28AM (#16037628) Journal
    in other news water banned as can be used as offensive weapon. /captain obvious to the rescue
  • Single? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by BenjyD ( 316700 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:34AM (#16037659)
    Maybe I missed something, but why does one person being out of the house mean the house is empty? What about partners, housemates etc?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by GauteL ( 29207 )
      "Maybe I missed something, but why does one person being out of the house mean the house is empty? What about partners, housemates etc?"

      House mates are clearly possible, but her calendar never mentions any partner like it would if she was married or living with a partner.
      • House mates are clearly possible, but her calendar never mentions any partner like it would if she was married or living with a partner.
        Maybe all those "Fire Staff Classes" entries are her husband's events. No need to include his name since it's clear to her who the event is for.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Maybe you missed the bit where the author did a cursory glance through and saw no mention of another half, or of kids. I guess you could extend that to lack of info on housemates, etc, and take it from there?
      • Maybe you missed the bit where the author did a cursory glance through and saw no mention of another half, or of kids. I guess you could extend that to lack of info on housemates, etc, and take it from there?

        But what if she is a closeted lesbian, and that's why she doesn't mention her partner?

  • by jkind ( 922585 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @10:34AM (#16037660) Homepage
    Maybe people will discuss you on
  • The tabs in my firefox say "Steve Irwin" "Death by Google"

    Not evil my ass
  • As others have pointed out here, this only works if you have your Google Calendar set to public. By default (at least with my account) my calendar is already set to private. This supposed "stealing" and "death by calendar" stuff is just hype. This public calendar feature is just that: it's a feature you can add manually to allow other people to see. This is nothing bad. I for one am glad that Google likes to add useful features into their products. If this was an attempt to make Google look evil, it was a p
  • by LionKimbro ( 200000 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:05AM (#16037817) Homepage
    I have my calendar marked "Public" on Google, and there's no way that this silly article is changing my mind.

    This is, to me, akin to the old scare about putting your phone number online.

    Do any of you remember? The attitude of the 1990's was: Oh My God Jesus Christ, That Man Has His Phone Number Online! Somebody stop that man, he's a menace to himself, and to Society!

    Then I read something Philip Greenspun wrote, where he said: (A) I have X,000,000 gajillion hits on my site per day. (B) My cell phone number is featured prominantly on my website. (C) I have only once received a phone call that was unwelcome, but I have far more many times received phone calls that I wanted (due to the posting.)

    Personally, I have never received the unwanted phone call.

    I think people have a way of inflating plausible threats to themselves, [] regardless of the actual risks. []

    In the event (it has to actually happen several times!) that people start using Google Calendars to raid homes, and in the event that it's statistically significant as far as threats go, I will simply wire up my apartment with cams, hard drives, and redundant offsite storage.
    • Hmmm, have you experimented posting your email address on your website to see if you never or hardly get any unwanted email.

      It obviously depends on what information your posting online and of course some or more stupid in regards to what data one should obviuosly not post to the public.

      I personally posted my college class schedule on my previous website, the reasoning being I wanted friends to know when I'll be busy or not, so they don't try to call me when I'm in class.
    • Hmmm, I've been a bit of a pendulum with my attitude towards security and identity theft. Originally, I never really cared, then got into system admin, learnt a whole heap of stuff and became ultra paranoid about security. Then I figured (once I moved out of system admin and into dev) my standards were too high and I should probably relax a little. Then someone used my name and an old address of mine (when I was 8 years old) to enquire about the purchase of a car - though whoever the genius was that did it
      • Looking further down the line: I'd like to be so visible, it's almost impossible to steal my identity.

        What I mean by that, is the ability to say: "Look, here's all these sensors and automated systems that say: This guy is the guy in front of you, talking with you, etc.,."

        I'd like to be notified within 20 seconds of my credit card being used for anything. I'd like to be notified within seconds of a credit check is performed. (And so on, and so forth.)

        I think Internet Bonding [] will solve many of the problems w
  • by GauteL ( 29207 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @11:07AM (#16037829)
    .. of doing exactly what he suggests. Any semi-intelligent person should be able to think up some.

    My try:
    1. Find some sports club with scheduled activities.
    2. Follow home someone that looks like a young professional with a sports bag. You now know their address.
    3. Next time that class is on, watch her or his house. If the person leave before the class begins, with their trusted sports bag, you know they are going to the gym. If the person switches off the lights, then you are set!
    4. Break in and enjoy the goodies!

    This is a lot easier, and you have a bigger chance of figuring out whether the person has anything worth stealing straight away. Fancy clothes is a give-away.
    • I tried googling the Daisy person mentioned in the article. As far as I can tell she's really into flowers...
  • Good article (Score:1, Redundant)

    by The MAZZTer ( 911996 )
    Anyone who uses Google Cal should read this, it'll enlighten the extreme of the possible privacy issues involved with making your calendar public. Thus the user can make an informed decision on whether it should be public or not.
  • The article starts from the base that someone publishes to the world where and when will be some day. That it is in google calendar is just accidental. I dont see headlines saying "death by blog", "death by mailing list", "death by irc", "death by MySpace", "death by YouTube", "death by Flickr", and so on... whatever way you have to publish information about yourself, if you use it to publish in a way or another when and where, can be used to kill you.
    • Well

      I used to Work for the phone company (BT)

      One day the showed us a video about the importance of data security - they showd a reconstruction of someone asking a mate to use CSS (the BT Uber Billing system) to track down a persons new address.

      The sobering punch line at the end is this actualy happend and it was an Ex who then used the info to find and kill his ex wife.

      CSS has security up the wazoo - if your were a senior deveolper on CSS or similar systems you had to be PV'd (Postivly Vetted the

  • Lately many people like to expose their lifes over Internet. I don't know exactly why everyone is doing this but people don't care about giving out names, photos, address, schedules, living details, ... Is like everyone wants to be famous or feel alive. You know "I'm here! Please watch me!".
  • Finally slashdot admins are really that "do no evil" is just a gimmick. Nowadays, there are quite a few email postings against google, i think this one is second in the same day.
  • A quick Google calender search for flights yields:

    What looks like a flight crew trip schedule
    Various reservation details including a person's name, flight # or reservation number and date

    I'd be more worried that a jokester friend would cancel my flight than someone breaking in; one did that to a friend going on a honeymoon (canceled the hotel as a joke)without realizing a convention was in town. Real funny.

    Similar results can be had with other keywords. Some can be useful - I noticed some hotels put up eve
  • by 93 Escort Wagon ( 326346 ) on Monday September 04, 2006 @12:38PM (#16038411)
    I found it insanely funny that someone who is basically a blogger would lead with this sentence:

    "I find it utterly stupid that people display their lives online."

    So I guess after "people" there is an implicit "(other than me)"?
  • 1) Force your browser to HTTPS - Google can handle
    2) Do not change the default sharing options on your calendar
    3) The articles instructions are not quite accurate: but here is my cleanup for you:
    3a) Login to Google Calendar
    3b) Click "settings" in the upper-right-hand-corner - this article is old)
    3c) Click on the CALENDAR tab
    3d) Click on the the Calendar you want to edit from your list
    3e) Click "Change Sharing Settings" ( your can find it underneath the "Calendar Address" header
    3f) Smac
  • Some expose the tiniest details of their lives.

    And then get upset when their parents read their blogs or something...


    If you are a creature of habit (like most people), an attacker can know what time you are likely to be at home posting on slashdot/your blog etc. Just a simple sampling of the times you've posted will do.

    But hey if you're going to target a physical house, you might as well just watch it first...
  • Who's reading TFA? You, me, slashdotters and so on. Who isn't? Those that actually have calenders like that, write about their life and their friends on their blogs and have complete webpages containing pretty much every information about them but their SSN.

    People are very careless with their data. Why do you think we're losing more and more privacy and there's no public uproar about it? Got nothing to hide, got nothing to hide, right?

    Well, this is where this attitude leads to.
  • I just tried it myself... I found the _____ Family calendar, which includes (among other things) *when mom and dad visit/return to Florida (and what flight)*kids schedules for various activities *vacation dates overseas *names *address of family *etc.... PRETTY SCARY!!!
  • How's this different from leaving your garage door remote in your car along with your insurance papers that shows your address? Theives get into your car take your remote and find your address. He/she knows you are out goes to your house and gets in and take everything or worse yet steals your identity and rack up some credit rating damage.
  • Get up at 8:00am on a Saturday morning of a long weekend and drive around the suburbs looking for campers, minivans, station-wagons being loaded with family and luggage. Or just hit up the beachhouses and cottages in the off-season and steal their liquor and BBQs.
  • So you're saying when I click "Share all information on this calendar with everyone" other people can somehow see my calendar? Holy crap!

The relative importance of files depends on their cost in terms of the human effort needed to regenerate them. -- T.A. Dolotta