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Steve Chiotakis: There is a major cyber attack going on right now and hundreds of U.S. companies have already been infected. That's according to this computer security company Netwitness. Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson is with us live from our New York bureau with the latest. Good morning, Jeremy.

Jeremy Hobson: Morning, Steve.

Chiotakis: How big is this attack?

Hobson: Well Netwitness says it's already infected 75,000 machines around the world, including computers within about 500 American companies. It's been going on for 18 months and it's supposedly one of the largest attacks of its kind. Netwitness says when it briefed the FBI and other agencies, that U.S. officials were surprised at the size of the attack.

Chiotakis: So who's doing this, Jeremy?

Hobson: Well I spoke with Eddie Schwartz, he's the chief security officer at Netwitness, he's based in Mumbai. And he says the attackers are organized criminals, they're thought to be in Europe and China, and Schwartz says this attack is all about acquiring information.

Eddiw Schwartz: Gathering usernames and passwords, gathering on individuals' access into systems, and gathering other types of information that could be used by other entities to gain access to corporate systems, corporate Web sites, corporate intellectual property and so on.

Chiotakis: And Jeremy, were these companies just totally caught off guard?

Hobson: Eddie Schwartz says they were, and that this is a wake-up call for companies that they need to change their focus in cyber security from preventing attacks to trying to figure out how to deal with them more quickly once they happen.

Chiotakis: Marketplace's Jeremy Hobson reporting live from New York. Jeremy, thanks.

Hobson: Thank you.

Follow Jeremy Hobson at @jeremyhobson