back to article 3ve Offline: Countless Windows PCs using 1.7m IP addresses hacked to 'view' up to 12 billion adverts a day

A collection of cybersecurity companies, Google, and the Feds are sharing details on how they uncovered and dismantled a massive ad-fraud operation known as "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".) Google says that at its peak, the 3ve scam employed as many as 1.7 million hijacked devices to generate fake clicks on adverts, and made its …

  1. The Nazz Silver badge

    Excellent news

    Perhaps operations like this could be applied to many more issues.

    And now, how about setting about the rest of the advertising industry to make it honest?

    Like say xxxxtome having 17. 3bn unique users etc

  2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

    No, it's pronounced "three-vee-ee".

    At a push, you could maybe say "threeve", but then it would be written as such.

    1. pogul

      Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

      > "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

      Not familiar with l33t speak then? (however stupid it is)

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

        l33t sp33k lost its "popularity" in the mid-2000's I think...

        still useful for passwords, though

        I google'd for 'leet speak generators" and got a bunch of hits. Seems a lot of people like to keep 'l33t sp33k' alive.

        Oh, and good article. I think it's informative enough to generally know what to look out for with respect to computer security.

        1. hmv Silver badge

          Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

          "still useful for passwords, though"

          /me bangs his head against the wall.

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

        "Not familiar with l33t speak then? (however stupid it is)"

        Too familiar..... Hence my post. (which would have come across as a bit twatty if I hadn't!)

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

      a massive ad-fraud operation known as "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)

      I think "thieve" would be more fitting.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

        I pronounce it "Throatwobbler Mangrove" like any normal sane person.


        Raymond Luxury Yacht.

    3. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

      How about Thi-eve? Sound pretty close to the mark!

      1. DropBear

        Re: "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)"

        I think I'll go with "thrive" and I think I can see Occam nodding too...

  3. ds6

    And of course...

    ...They're all Russians.

    Not living in Russia.

    The least these guys could do is stay in Russia to help their struggling economy... Or is that not something the greater world would want right now.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: And of course...

      miscreants are miscreants. you find criminals EVERYWHERE

      1. the Jim bloke Silver badge
        Big Brother

        Re: And of course...

        EVERYWHERE the authorities look... they see miscreants....

        to adapt the NRA catchphrase..

        if the laws are unjust.. then Justice will be illegal

  4. Milton


    Now I know why the people buying internet advertising have this fond (rather charming) little delusion: that their deluge of crap actually works.

    There is a certain poetry in the idea that a billion shittily-produced, cheap, nasty adverts, so bad that they might as well be generated by Artificial Idiots, are being "viewed" by a billion bots programmed by shitty, nasty, Artificial Humans.

    I guess it's all of a piece with the zenith of human technological and civilised progress: half the species concentrating on lying to the other half so they'll buy crap they don't need with money they don't have.

    Well done, us.

  5. Shaha Alam

    "for comparison, this is more than the number of broadband subscriptions in Ireland"

    I'm sorry but i cant get my head around this number unless its presented in a more commonly understood metric. please express the number in multiples of average Sheep per sqr mile in Wales, or the distances that can be reached when stacking double decker buses on top of each other.

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      Too right!

      As for sheep per square mile, it's probably 0.00000000000000000000000000005 sheep per square mile if my bedroom is anything to go by!

    2. Rich 11 Silver badge

      That'll be about one IP address for every ten sheep in Wales, with each group of ten sheep occupying 0.8% of a square mile.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      perhaps we need a unit for the amount of cable needed to reach all the broadband subscribers in Ireland ... then maybe data centre managers can start to brag about how "my data centres are so big they have have 3 Irelands of network cabling"

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just a thought but

    assuming at least some of the ads were ones that generated revenue for Google, will Google refund the duped advertisers who paid for fake clicks. Or am I missing something?

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Just a thought but

      I'm sure that Google's ad contract has something in it that says no.

      Eg: "Blah, blah, waffle, bollocks, bollocks, we've got better lawyers, tough shit".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "3ve" (pronounced "Eve".)

    er... what?

  8. A.P. Veening Silver badge

    Advertising ecosystem


    "3ve’s sheer size and complexity posed a significant risk not just to individual advertisers and publishers, but to the entire advertising ecosystem," Google said.


    Is it just me who would rejoice if the whole advertising ecosystem went down? Or are there more who think it wouldn't be a bad idea.

    NB: I don't have any problems with relevant ads, but I do have a problem with the staggeringly small minority of ads that are in even the slightest way relevant instead of for things I just bought and won't need a replacement for within the next ten years.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Advertising ecosystem

      Are there ads on the internet? Genuine question, I've not seen any since perhaps 1998. Now I have pi-hole I don't even see the adblocker bullshit either.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over the past few days Google gets slammed all over the place for being evil, today news breaks that they are really the good guys. What a surprise!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dude, it was stealing their advertisers money which would lead to less money for Google. Nothing altruistic here at all.

    2. hmv Silver badge

      On organisation as large as Google can be more than one thing at a time!

  10. iron Silver badge

    "controlled over one million IPs... would only install on systems that weren't running security software"

    That's a worrying couple of phrases.

    1. DropBear

      Not really - please note that it was _its_ decision not to install on systems _with_ security software that _it_ was obviously already running on. Unless you referred to the uselessness of security software that most people are already well aware of, so it's not particularly worrying news either.

  11. Mr Dogshit

    Don't be 3vil

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Raises a question in my mind...

    Like (I suspect) most here, I block ads (uBlock Origin), and haven't seen one for years. I feel a little guilty about doing this on El Reg and some other sites.

    If somebody wrote a modified blocker where one could say : "On and the following sites, download ads in the background and follow them, but send everything you get straight to /dev/null", I'd use it to support El Reg and similar sites. I see three issues: technical, ethical, and legal.

    Can't really see why there should be a technical problem with this, though the ad-following would have to be a little selective/limited to evade malware. (Also, I dunno if El Reg gets paid if the ad is sent to my machine, or if a link has to be followed before they get anything?)

    I suppose the advertisers might suddenly develop a sense of ethics and squawk at this idea. But "ethics" and "advertisers" only appear in the same sentence to be mocked.

    Would there be a _legal_ issue in deliberately installing such software on your own machine for your own purposes? I'd think not, but am not a lawyer.

  13. midcapwarrior

    "The malware would only install on systems that weren't running security software"

    Not sure whether to laugh or cry that there would that many open computers.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Doesn't add up

    From the title: . ..countless Windows PCs

    and then...

    The malware would only install on systems that weren't running security software

    Since current OS market share shows majority of Windows is now Win7 and Win10, and both have Windows Defender ON BY DEFAULT and cannot be turned off, CAN I mark this news as fake news from Google? Really. I am serious. Something doesn't add up. Since disabling Windows Defender is not that easy for regular users.

  15. astounded1

    Um...Creepy Smart Thieves Love Big Privacy Invading Ad Schemes Like Google

    Google is justifying itself as a victim in all this. The cookie monster is actually pretty damn stupid.

    This is why it allegedly took 16 ORGANIZATIONS AND YEARS TO BRING THIS SCHEME TO HEEL.

  16. Maelstorm Bronze badge


    In Soviet Russia, you don't view and click on the ads, the ads view and click on you.

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