New fear unlocked: an Ecuadorian journalist plugged a USB device into his computer, and it turned out to be a bomb that exploded in the newsroom.
As the BBC and other outlets reported, Lenin Artieda of the Ecuavisa TV station was the unlucky recipient of a bomb disguised as a thumb drive — and although Ecuador's attorney general's office has not identified any of the other outlets targeted, reports indicate that at least five other organizations in the country received similar explosives.
According to The Guardian's reporting, Artieda suffered only minor injuries from the blast, and was, as the BBC's report notes, the person whose USB bomb actually went off, aside from a police-controlled explosion of a device sent to another TV station.
"It’s a military-type explosive," Xavier Chango, the head of Ecuador's forensic science department, told reporters earlier in the week, "but very small capsules."
It isn't the first time a similar USB device has made news, either.
Back in 2015, the hackosphere was all a-twitter over the "Killer USB" device made by a Russian hacker that was able to fry whatever computer it was plugged into.
While investigators haven't yet revealed any substantial information about the device, who sent it, or why, reports have noted that Ecuador — which is located between Peru and Colombia, the two biggest cocaine-producing countries in the world — has experienced an uptick in violence that the country's president, Guillermo Lasso, has attributed to gang wars.
While the South American country is not yet a "narco-state" like its neighbors, an increase in terror tactics by Mexican cartel-linked Ecuadorean gangs including beheadings and bombings is bringing it ever closer to becoming one, The Guardian reports.
That's not the only grim context. These USB bombs were not, unfortunately, the first attacks on journalists in Ecuador recently.
Last fall, security camera footage captured two motorcycle-riding gunmen shooting at the doors of the RTS TV station in the city of Guayaquil (where Ecuavisa and some of the other USB bomb targets are also located), and those same gunmen left pamphlets containing death threats from a cartel.
Even more tragically, reporter Gerardo Delgado Olmedo was shot and killed last fall as well, though there hasn't been much more information about the fatal attack in the town of Manta since.
Attacks on the media are terrifying enough, but adding the component of a bomb disguised as a thumb drive and we have a veritable thriller film on our hands — except this is real life, and real people could get hurt if this continues.
Share This Article