The FBI has issued a warning that hackers are using malware to launch attacks designed to break into the networks of businesses across the United States.
The news follows the hack of Sony Pictures Entertainment, with some theories suggesting the hackers worked under direction of the North Korean government.
"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 systems administrators guard against the actions of persistent cyber criminals," said FBI spokesman Joshua Campbell in a statement, explaining that companies should contact the FBI if they are hacked.
The warning was sent to a number of U.S. businesses in a five-page "flash" paper, with the FBI providing technical details about the malware being used, but not mentioning the corporate victim by name. The malware reportedly overwrites data on hard drives, rendering them unusable, while also closing down networks.
It is unknown if the warning is related to the Nov. 24 Sony hack, but given the timing of it, it is likely. If Sony was the first victim of this malware then the recovery process is likely to be both costly and time consuming for the company.
The hack of Sony Pictures first emerged last week, with reports that the company's website and Twitter feeds had been taken over. Sony employees then tried to access their computers, only to be met with a message threatening that company secrets would be revealed if the company did not meet the hackers' requirements. The hackers called themselves the "Guardians of Peace," or #GOP.
Following the threat, packs of files that allegedly belonged to Sony employees were leaked online, including passwords, mailboxes and even copies of passports belonging to actors and crew members working on films. A number of days later, five unreleased Sony films were leaked online, with titles including Annie, Mr. Turner, Still Alice, To Write Love On Her Arms and Fury, which is currently playing in theaters.
Following the leaks, reports began circulating linking the North Korean government with the hacks because of the upcoming film The Interview, a comedy which stars Seth Rogen and James Franco playing journalists who are hired by the CIA to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. When asked if North Korea was behind the attacks, a spokesperson for the regime's government cryptically answered "Wait and see." When The Interview was first announced, the North Korean government threatened both the U.S. government and filmmakers behind the movie.
Despite the cryptic answer, neither the North Korean government nor the FBI have confirmed who was behind the attacks.