Following a year of investigations, Google has today announced the takedown of one of the most complex ad fraud operations ever identified.  

Known as ‘3ve’ (pronounced ‘Eve’), the operation was identified in 2017 and through work with cybersecurity firm White Ops, was referred to law enforcement, ultimately leading to criminal charges being filed by the US Attorney’s Office.

Highlighting the sophistication of the operation, Google stated that the ‘takedown represents a major milestone in the industry’s fight against ad fraud’.

They have also published a white paper, which outlines the key details of the case:

  • 3ve evolved from a modest botnet into a large and sophisticated operation on a significant scale, with over one million IPs across the EU and the US infected.
  • The operation involved the exploitation of both data centres and malware-infected computers, while also spoofing fraudulent domains and using fake websites.
  • 3ve generated billions of fraudulent ad bid requests and it also created thousands of spoofed fraudulent domains
  • The FBI has now made 8 arrests in connection with this fraud and the operation has been taken down

What does this mean for advertisers?

ISBA have been told by Google that any advertisers using Google platforms and affected by the fraud have been contacted and any potential advertiser losses have been reimbursed.

We would urge anyone who has any concerns to contact their Google representative.

This is not an isolated incident though and gives us as an important indication of how big the issue of ad fraud is. We believe much more needs to be done in this area and urge the relevant organisations to invest more in both detection processes and the fight against ad fraud to ensure advertisers, consumers and publishers are protected against criminal activity.

View Google's full statement here >

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Written 28th November 2018
By ISBA Team