A couple of times spam has appeared in the calendar of my mobile phone – a Galaxy Note running Android ‘Jelly Bean’. This was unexpected as I thought that app was private for my use only. Looking on the web I soon discovered that calendars are shared with your business colleagues, family and apparently the whole world. But that was not what I wanted.
When you install an app you are asked to allow it access to various functions on your phone. The calendar app comes preinstalled on the Note and I found that it could ‘add or remove accounts, Google mail, use accounts on the device, add or modify calendar events and send emails to guests without owner’s knowledge, read calendar events plus confidential information, read your contacts, and read your text messages’.
I like the Note’s calendar (S-Planner) but I certainly didn’t want it to do anything that required such wide ranging access. I’ve no idea how the spam was inserted into my calendar but it was pretty clear that if I wanted to stop it happening again I needed to restrict those permissions. However this is an app that comes preinstalled and you are not allowed to alter what it can do or even uninstall it .. unless you ‘root’ your phone.
This is not as dramatic as it sounds. Windows Vista, 7 and 8 introduced the idea that you could not install, remove or update software that might impact on other users unless you had ‘administrator’ rights. In Linux (from which Android is derived) the administrator is called ‘root’ and to make the changes I wanted on my phone I needed to be ‘root’.