RSM Defense Intelligence has observed some claims and reports of a Universal Serial Bus (USB) thumb drive or commonly called flash drive being used as single detonation bombs. One such example was in Ecuador. The device was mailed to a journalist and Ecuadorian television presenter, which resulted in the USB being utilized as an explosive after being plugged into the USB slot.
In Ecuador, journalist Lenin Artieda, opened an envelope he received in the newsroom of Ecuavisa TV. Inside the envelope was a USB flash drive. When inserted into a laptop, the device exploded. Fortunately, Artieda only suffered minor injuries. The country’s attorney general’s office announced on Monday that it had launched a terrorism investigation after journalists at several other news outlets were targeted and sent envelopes containing similar explosive devices.
Ecuador, which sits between Colombia and Peru, the world’s two largest cocaine-producing countries, is a strategic drug-smuggling route due to its long Pacific coastline and large shipping and fishing fleets. Law enforcement and other agency analysts say criminal gangs emboldened by lucrative links to Mexican drug cartels are using terror tactics to intimidate the authorities and civilians as the country of nearly 18 million people teeters on the edge of becoming a narcotic ran state.
RSM Defense Intelligence Analyst: While there is currently no reports of this activity happening on United States soil, this is still a threat to various organizations that may become a target to include law enforcement, government employees and buildings, as well as media outlets. While this is the first time observing this particular technique of utilizing a USB flash drive to create an explosive force, this is not the first time these types of terrorist tactics have been used. From the actions of Ted Kaczynski mailing bombs sent via US Postal Service in 1978 to the 2001 anthrax attacks, which had letters containing anthrax spores mailed to several news media offices and various US Senators. Terrorism through the mail transportation system is an ongoing threat even now-a-days. Not only is the mail service an avenue but with the recent activity shows that terrorism has evolved to utilizing the USB as an explosive. RSM Defense Intelligence Analyst recommends to inspect packages that may or may not have been expected to be delivered as well as being suspicious of any USB found in common spaces. To prevent organizations becoming a victim of a RUBBER DUCKY / BAD USB or USB BOMB, make sure any USB that is needed for the organization is clearly marked appropriately, inspected thoroughly, or refrain from using the USB technology wherever possible.