With the proliferation of consumer-grade drones in recent years, there have been a number of influential voices within the security industry who have expressed concern over the potential threats posed by unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the wrong hands. From close encounters with jetliners to their use as weapons on the battlefields of the Middle East, the destructive capabilities of drones have already been well-demonstrated in real-world scenarios.
If these malicious use cases weren’t bad enough, security practitioners can now count drones as tools that can be leveraged for targeted assassination attempts after a group of conspirators attempted to kill Nicolas Maduro, the much-maligned president of Venezuela, using UAVs outfitted with plastic explosives on Sunday. According to reports, security officials were able to bring the drones down using radio signal jamming technology. Although no one was killed in the incident, seven soldiers were wounded, including three who were seriously injured.
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According to Logan Harris, CEO of SpotterRF, which develops surveillance radar solutions for detecting drones and other perimeter security threats, the assassination attempt on Maduro’s life will certainly heighten awareness surrounding the threats presented by UAVs and hopefully drive home how the risk landscape has changed.
“Air attacks in the past have been something that only a large nation-state could muster and now that has all changed,” Harris says. “Now we’re dealing with what I like to call flying IEDs, they’re small, improvised and fairly easy to weaponize. It’s almost like a poor man’s cruise missile where you can put some explosive on it or some other agent and then you can program it to deliver it to a specific GPS location without even being under command and control. The operator can set that up, push go and then take off. It’s a whole new paradigm for security.”