The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes that a group of hackers may have put in motion a sophisticated cyber-attack on US computer systems. As a result, the government agency has issued a five-page warning to companies across the United States.
The warning was distributed to raise awareness of a new form of malicious software (more commonly referred to as malware) among businesses. This malware is designed to overwrite its victim's master boot record (MBR) and data files. Recovering the data after an attack is said to be an extremely expensive process, though in most cases it is not even possible.
Something to do with the Sony Pictures hack?
The FBI's warning talks about a high-profile company that has recently been attacked with such malware. Many analysts believe this company to be Sony Pictures Entertainment, though the report avoids mentioning names.
Last week, Sony Pictures was targeted by a group that called itself 'GOP', and several watermarked Sony Pictures films have since been leaked online – some of which have not yet been released in cinemas.
One popular theory is that North Korea may be the culprit, given that Sony Pictures is set to release The Interview – a satirical thriller about an assassination attempt on Kim Jong-un, the country's supreme leader.
Although this is merely speculation at the moment, North Korea has refused to deny involvement in the attack.
The FBI report advises affected businesses on the best response tactics and instructs them to contact the FBI if they believe they have identified the malware.
FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell commented: "The FBI routinely advises private industry of various cyber threat indicators observed during the course of our investigations. This data is provided in order to help system administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals."