Return to Transcripts main page
QUEST MEANS BUSINESS
WikiLeaks Backlash; British Students Protest Tuition Hikes
Aired December 9, 2010 - 14:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICHARD QUEST, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Free speech at a price. The Wikileaks backlash is spreading fear online and it has lead to one arrest.
Your student debt tripled. Britain government approves a huge rise in university fees. Is that wise?
And his wealth has been halved. We speak to AOL founder Steve Case on why he's giving away so much.
I'm Richard Quest. We have an hour together. And, yes, I mean business.
We know what they want and now we're getting more insight into who they are. On tonight's show we're going to be inside the minds of the hackers threatening to take online consumers prisoner in their fight for free speech. And we are going to look at this cyber warfare from all angles, from the companies, from the governments, and indeed from those involved.
First though, I need to update you on the events of the day. And this is what has been happening, the latest development, the call to arms. First of all, a 16-year old has been arrested in the Netherlands. Charged, DIY hacking, supporters have been urged to download "Hacking For Dummies" software. Also, tonight, the Amazon attack has been called off. Not enough forces, according to Anonymous. Instead, PayPal is being targeted, instead. There is a backlash against the Twitter company, Twitter, of course, online social media. Because Twitter apparently has been removing many anonymous accounts, which have been suspended. Now there is a backlash against Twitter. According to some Anonops History, this is a letter from Anonymous, our message, intentions, potential targets.
They borrow freely from the greats of democracy, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin. "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither. And even those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves."
This is what they are saying so far. The call themselves Anonymous; and the name says it all, they are exceptionally difficult to pin down. Arguable a sprawling group with no officials, if you like head to organization.
Atika Shubert has been following this all day and managed to get an audience with several anonymous hackers to an online chat room.
What was it-what happened?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Well, basically we followed their Twitter postings. This is the way they issue their commands in the cyber war, by putting out these tweets saying, attack PayPal, or attack Amazon, what have you. So I followed that to an online chat room. And once there, basically four or five of these anonymous hackers basically came on and explained to us what they were doing. They said they were "hackavists" for freedom of information and that they would use any methods they could to do this. So it is really incredible. And what is even more amazing is you don't have to be a hacker to join. You can just lend them your IP address and they can use that to continue attacks on Web sites.
QUEST: As we look at what they did and how they do it. Do they see- well, what did they tell you in terms of their very motive. Because obviously there is an irony that those who claim to speak for freedom of speech, who are even cloaking themselves in Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin, arguably doing exactly the opposite?
SHUBERT: Well, that is what I asked them. And basically, their answer is the ends justify the means. That this is a way to get their point across and that groups like Wikileaks shouldn't be silenced. And what is amazing is they really are becoming a sort of grassroots movement. And we were actually able to speak to another hacker who says he just joined Anonymous and this is what-Wikileaks is precisely why he joined. You can toss right now to that spot where we spoke to him.
QUEST: Let's have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They put him (Assange) in jail because he is only telling the truth, nothing more. And we just want freedom of speech, nothing more. I am a hacker but I'm an ethical hacker. Now is my first time that I'm done something this big. It is because Wikileaks made us all hackers of the world unite together to tell people that freedom of speech is free to everyone and all over the Internet do that. We are all anonymous. All hackers of the world. And we are telling world truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SHUBERT: As you can see there he didn't want to be identified. All of them basically use this name Anonymous. Saying that nobody is in charge, nobody is leading this attack. It is just this sort of collective that has come together.
QUEST: Finally, Atika, briefly, do you get-is there a political motive behind any of this? I mean, are they anti-capitalist? Are they pro- socialist-communist? I mean, don't know. Are they trying to bring down capitalism as we know it?
SHUBERT: Well, not really and this is the thing about Anonymous, anybody can join so anybody with an anti-capitalist motivation can come on, but not necessarily. It could be somebody who just wants to support Wikileaks, somebody who wants to take down Amazon. It could be anybody, anytime, can join this group.
QUEST: Atika Shubert, who spoke to the hackers. Many thanks, indeed.
These attacks have escalated over the last few days. Companies are being hit, commercial enterprise in some cases has ground to a halt. And the whole question is becoming far more serious than just a few teenagers in a bedroom causing a bit of mayhem. Jim Boulden is with me now.
I'm right there, aren't I?
JIM BOULDEN, CNN FINANCIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Let's follow up on what Atika said here, because when she said anybody at anytime. Well, it didn't used to be that way of course. We think back to the "War Games" film of the early `80s, when it was hacking for kicks. The idea was that you could get into a computer. You could get into the Pentagon and look for something. Many people did it because they could do it. That was a long time ago, seems like ancient history doesn't it. Now we get to this targeted mayhem.
Not what happened in just the last couple of days but what we have been building up to. Where a lot of people have been using these "denial of service" to take down sites, many of them are criminal gangs, you have to remember using this as extortion; telling companies that we could do this to you, if you don't give us money. And we don't hear about a lot of those. But that is where they were using these so-called "BOPS" (ph). Where they would use people's computers, or company computers, or companies computers unwittingly to actually do these "denials of service" attacks on other companies. And they were doing this criminally, of course.
Now earlier I spoke to Peter Wood. He is the CEO of First Base Technologies. He's what you call a white hat hacker. He helps companies stop this. And he says the more people now that are in this targeted mayhem, the more people who can do it, of course, it is harder to stop.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETER WOOD, FIRST BASE TECHNOLOGIES: You could try and attack the source of the attack. But it is all over the world. It is coming from thousands of different people at the same time. In order to be able to stop that you have to be able to recognize what the attack looks like and individually block each of those people. This is not something you can do quickly and easily. So, pretty much everybody is at the mercy of this sort of attack.
BOULDEN: Now this takes us to where we are today. This Wiki affect, if you will. Thousands of people volunteering to use their computers to actually download these "denial of service" tools. These are not experts. These are people who feel passionate about this. And that is very interesting because you don't just have the hackers. You don't just have the people who are anarchists, if you will. Or people who have this specific anger towards something or another. It is people who two weeks ago may not have thought of wanting to do this. But they are now getting deeply involved and being told to go after PayPal, or go after Amazon. Have to say, though, of course, even though we have heard about some websites having "denial of services", some issues, it isn't that we haven't seen these companies collapse. We haven't seen these PayPal collapse. We haven't seen them go after the various areas.
And that is why Peter said, that is why I talked to this gentleman and he said that it is limited in scope so far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOOD: I'm a consumer. Am I going to go to PayPal to make a payment, or to receive a payment? Yes, that would affect me. Of course, it would. But if I'm a larger organization and I'm using PayPal as my standard payment channel, then I'm not going through the front door, or I have my own private door.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOULDEN: So they may be going after the front door, Richard, but as of yet not going through these private channels. But Peter Wood said they could, it is just a matter of when and if they decide to do that.
QUEST: Jim, interesting stuff. Many thanks, Jim Boulden with us tonight.
Marc Maiffret is a teenager hacker who defected to the other side. Mark is now so-called one of the good guys working in online security. He joins me from Irvine, California.
Marc, good evening to you. Good afternoon in California.
Do you have any sympathy with the Anonymous hackers and their attacks at the moment?
MARC MAIFFRET, CO-FOUNDER, eEYE DIGITAL SECURITY: I think in a lot of ways it is a bit misguided what is happening out there. I mean if you look at the kind of core conversation of what is happening with Wikileaks and privacy in general, I think, the big question is do we believe privacy extends to not just individuals, but also to governments and corporations.
And I definitely believe that privacy is something important for both governments and corporations. I think if you look at what has been happening from this kind of "hackavists" aspect that the kind of attacks that are taking place. They definitely doing more harm than good. Not only, you know, harming the companies that are involved. And all the kind of cascading effects that kind of go with it. But also that it is not sending out a message that if something like a Wikileaks or related with something you actually believe and then freedom of information is definitely the wrong way to go about it.
QUEST: But tell me, because you are in the mind, or you have been in the minds of these people. You were one of them. How do they justify, in their own rationale, what they are doing rather than the damage that is caused as a result?
MAIFFRET: You know, I think the big thing is that hacking has changed so much that in about the 15 years since I was kind of involved in specifically doing hacking and doing those things as a teenager. It was much more about the exploration and yes, you were getting a message out, but you could view that in a way where you didn't have to actually take down (AUDIO GAP). You didn't have to actually disrupt a business. It is very different today, because people, in the case of what is happening with Anonymous, do feel and are actually acting in a way that they are disrupting businesses. And that is very different from the day from the day of when folks such as myself were doing hacking.
And again, I think it is completely-
MAIFFRET: -counterproductive in helping in any way.
QUEST: So finally, you know, this is the-you know, this is the $64 billion question: Are we destined to be at the mercy, commercially, of every spotty teenager, or even adolescent, or even mature adult, who can manage to put together this sort of consortia, and hack away?
MAIFFRET: You know, the thing that I think folks should definitely remember is groups like Anonymous have been around for a while. They have done this similar type of campaign that they are doing now against organization such as the Church of Scientology. They are very well monitored throughout the U.S., by law enforcement, and related. And I think we'll continue to see these types of attacks in the future. And while these are disruptive, though, I think the world faces much greater challenges as it relates to hacking or what is happening with cybercrime. The mass amounts of data theft, intellectual property theft, and related. I mean these are very big and very visual with what is happening. But again, I think it is something that with most companies they can end up handling it fairly well.
QUEST: Marc, many thanks indeed.
Marc joining us there from California. We very much appreciate your insight into this.
For a different perspective hackers conducting attacks, obviously a major headache for companies that rely on the Internet for business. There can be no greater business in that respect than something like AOL. Steve Case is best known as the co-found and former chief executive of AOL. And I asked Steve if he thought it was inevitable that hackers would engage in this sort of activity?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE CASE, CO-FOUNDER, FMR. CHIEF EXEC., AOL: Well, you know, when we first got involved in this, we started AOL 25 years ago, nobody quite knew how this was going to develop. We really believed that someday the Internet would become part of everyday life and people really would rely on it in really fundamental ways and get information, to communicate, and to buy products and so forth. And that is obviously now happened. Now it really is ubiquitous and people are using it in more and more ways, across more and more devices. As a result it is not surprising that it becomes core infrastructure for countries, and really, the whole world. And protecting that infrastructure becomes very important.
QUEST: When you hear of the sort of things that we're hearing about at the moment, under attack, companies under attack, hackers doing these, dose it make you annoyed, frustrated, angry? As a man who has lived his life, primarily opening up the lines of communication, what does this do for you?
CASE: Well, in fairness there is controversy around the Wikileaks and the hackers there. It certainly takes it to a new level. But this issue of trying to protect these core systems, this core infrastructure, and protect it from piracy and hacking has been a problem for a couple of decades. I think all the major companies, certainly AOL, when I was running it, and many other companies, have dealt with this problem, and it will continue to be something. When it becomes that fundamental it is not surprising that it becomes a magnet for people. Not just who want to do good things, but sometimes the people who want to cause harm, which is unfortunate. But I think it goes with the territory, with the nature of this core infrastructure.
QUEST: Steve Case, there. And we'll hear more from him later in the program about his latest philanthropic donations.
In a moment, tuition fees go up. Demonstrators are on the street.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got an injured officer. Yeah, it looks like-
QUEST: British students laying siege to parliament and MPs give them a hike in their tuition fees.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clearly has been injured. There has been some quite nasty clashes just here.
(DESK BELL CHIMES)
QUEST: Europe's road to economic recovery is most certainly proving to be a rocky one tonight. Join me in the library and you'll see what I mean. Let's begin, of course, in Ireland where Ireland's opposition party says it will vote against the $65 billion payout package in next week's parliamentary vote. Ireland's debt has already been cut down, the credit rating down to triple B plus, and downgrade reflects further costs and the costs of supporting the banks. Not surprisingly in this scenario, the euro goes down, at about1.3248, against the U.S. dollar.
If it was only that it wouldn't be too bad, but it is worse, because in Greece that of course the EU is to give Greece more time to pay back the emergency loans it received; $146 billion was agreed. It is being paid in tranches as the troika approves it. Investors are worried about the ability to pay back. Now Olli Rehn, the EU economics commissioner says the emphasis is on containing the crisis and not just in Greece.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLLI REHN, ECONOMICS COMMISSIONER, ECONOMIC UNION: The first two quarterly reviews by the EU/IMF troika have been, in fact, very clear, crystal clear. Greece is on track, impressive fiscal consolidation is underway and there is a strong commitment to structural reform to enhance economic growth and job creation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: In the United Kingdom the Bank of England not surprisingly left rates on hold. It is the record time, it has done 20th month. And nobody really believes that rates will go up any time soon. QE remains at just about 200 billion U.K. pounds.
In the past few years the British government has approved a plan that would dramatically raise the tuition fees for university students.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The following interests (AUDIO GAP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first of (AUDIO GAP)
QUEST: The streets of London. Some clashed with police. Our senior international correspondent is Dan Rivers and he's spent the day monitoring events.
Dan, the pictures of the crowds. I mean, they looked a little nasty at times. Did it ever get out of hand?
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, there was some definitely some very angry clashes between the police and the protestors that took place. Most of the ones that we saw were just here, involving, you know, the police using horses to try and break up the crowd.
Let's talk to some of the protestors. Here we have got Una, Emily, and Harry.
Let's just ask you, what was your reaction to this vote going through today? How angry are you?
I'm really disappointed. I sort of expected it to go through, but I feel let down. I voted liberal party, because I opposed this. I think they stood for equality. I don't think that anymore. I'll carry on protesting.
HARRI JONKERS, PROTESTOR: I feel really disappointed as well. I don't think higher education should be left to market forces. Teaching arts and humanities benefits society as a whole. We should be (UNINTELLIGIBLE) culture, knowledge and understanding to inspire young people not just one way. Education is about financial success.
RIVERS: Thank you very much. We're going to have to leave it there. You know there are some pretty strong opinions; a lot of anger down here among the protestors. It is all still sort of contained in parliament square behind me. I think quite a lot of them have gone home. But a few hundred remain here now.
QUEST: Dan Rivers, who is in parliament, many thanks indeed.
When we come back in just a moment "Q&A". I'll be sparing with Ali Velshi and not surprisingly the issue is Wikileaks and how you are affected.
QUEST: Hello, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS and so does Ali Velshi. We are both here together in the CNN NEWSROOM and around the world.
Good afternoon, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Richard.
Each Thursday Richard and I will be coming to you around the world to talk business, travel, innovation, nothing is off limits.
QUEST: Now, today, as on both our programs, we have been talking at great length about Wikileaks and the "denial of service" and the backlash; and how it could reach us individually.
Ali, get set, on your mark, you have got 60 seconds.
(DESK BELL CHIMES)
VELSHI: All right. Visa, MasterCard and PayPal say don't worry, Richard, their payment systems are far more secure than their corporate Web sites, which have been attacked by Wikileaks. But these are early days in this cyber war and we don't yet know what else Julian Assange supporters have up their sleeves.
Let's face it, Richard, while we all act shocked, we know that hackers have been making digital mischief long before Wikileaks. Just ask Microsoft how many users it has lost to people tired to hackers penetrating Windows. But now it is real cyber warfare, the stuff of movies, anarchists versus governments and big business. And you might get caught in the middle as hackers deploy their skills for purely political reasons.
And beyond your online purchases, which might be in jeopardy, U.S. federal agencies, Richard, are warning employees that simply reading documents posted by Wikileaks could cost them their job. While some universities are warning students reading or distributing leaked material through social networks could hurt their prospects of getting federal jobs in the future. So from whom do you have more to fear, Richard? Wikileaks and its-
VELSHI: -anarchist hacker supporters? Or your own government, employers, and universities?
QUEST: All right. Here we go. Give me a minute on the clock, Ali. Starting now.
Ever since the first computers in 1945 the hackers have been attacking. But what is different about this time? I'll tell you what is different. Over the last 20 years things like this have arrived into everyone of our homes and in our offices. The computer is everywhere.
But this was more. What about the smart phones that we're all using? And, of course, the ubiquitous tablets that will be in everybody's Christmas stocking.
So it is not surprising that in the United States there is now Cyber Com, the new czar against cyber crime. In the U.K. it is part of the government's security apparatus. When it comes to cyber crime. You have two types. You have governments. Remember Stuxnet, with the Iranians?
And what about Google? Supposedly under attack from the Chinese. And then you have all the viruses that you and I have been hit with. Everything from I Luv you to Doomsday and beyond.
QUEST: Don't be fooled. This affects us all.
VELSHI: All right. Richard, we may be agreed on that point, but here is where we don't agree on something. Which one of us is smarter. So it is time to bring in The Voice.
For "Quiz Time" to help separate the men from the boys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, Gentlemen. I hope you had a hearty breakfast, it is time to get those bells ready for a test of speed and smarts.
According to the ITU, the leading U.N. agency for information and communication technology, some countries have declared Internet access as a legal right, which of the following countries have not. Is it A., Estonia; B., Latvia; C., Finland; D., Spain.
(DESK BELL CHIMES)
QUEST: I'm going to say Spain.
QUEST: I'm going for Latvia.
VOICE: The answer is B., Latvia. Finland was the first country to do so last year.
Now, on to question number two, hopefully you both will fair a little bit better. Now for a fun one, according to the Random House Dictionary where does the prefix, cyber, actually come from? Is it A., Cyber, a futuristic 1950s action figure; B. Cyberium, an element on the periodic table; C., Cybrus, a Latin noun for metal structure; D., Cybernetics, the science of control between animals and machines.
VELSHI: D., Cybernetics.
VOICE: Correct. It is Cybernetics. Everyone of those answers has absolutely no factual basis, whatsoever.
VELSHI: All right.
VOICE: And you may know this one from last week. Time magazine named Wikileaks the number one leak, and Watergate as number two, which President Nixon at the center of controversy, what was President Nixon's Secret Service code name? Was it, A., Searchlight; B., Lancer; C., Renegade; D., General.
VELSHI: I'm too young for this. This is going to go to Richard.
(DESK BELL CHIMES)
QUEST: I don't know this, I'm guessing Lancer.
VOICE: You are correct. It is Searchlight. Lancer was JFK's secret moniker. Renegade is President Obama's codename and General was President Harry Truman.
VELSHI: See, we wouldn't have known that if not for our Wikileaks, probably. Thank you Voice.
VOICE: Thank you. Have a good day.
VELSHI: Richard, it feels good to be on top in the quiz. I have never been in this position.
QUEST: And don't get too comfortable, because you won't be there many more times as we head towards 2011.
Ali, that will-I can't believe-I'm so mean to you tonight.
But that will do it for this week. We are here each week, Thursdays on QUEST MEANS BUSINESS at 1800.
VELSHI: And 2 p.m. Eastern in the NEWSROOM. Keep the topics coming, we choose these based on what you tell us. So go to our blog, CNN.com/Q M B, or CNN.com/Ali. Tell us each week what you want us to talk about. We'll see you next week.
See you, Richard.
QUEST: He won fair and square this week. I was never going to go for Searchlight. If it hadn't been Lancer, it would have Renegade or General.
All right. President Obama is tax-perhaps maybe I should read this as Searchlight's tax deal looks to be in serious trouble with lawmakers in his own party despite a serious warning from the president's chief economic advisor. What does it mean for the economy?
QUEST: Hello, I'm Richard Quest, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS.
It's a busy day.
This is CNN. And on this network, the news always comes first.
Before we go any further, I need to bring you some breaking news into CNN, which relates to the story that tens of thousands of angry students and their supporters took to the streets of London, protesting over a plan to triple the cap on university fees. In the past few moments, it's reported that a car carrying Prince Charles, the Princess of Wales, and Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, has been attacked by those student protests -- protesters. It was arriving at a performance in Central London.
Protesters apparently broke a window and threw paint over the car. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Charles and Camilla, are not believed to have been hurt.
Computer hackers working to attack Web sites critical of WikiLeaks say they're changing their targets. The group, known as Anonymous Operations, announced on Twitter it doesn't have any raw -- resources to carry out a planned attack on Amazon.com. Instead, they'll dedicate themselves to going after PayPal. The news comes as authorities in the Netherlands have arrested a 16-year-old boy in connection with the cyber assault.
The African Union has suspended the Ivory Coast because of that country's election turmoil. An A.U. commissioner says the Union will not allow Ivory Coast to participate in any of its activities until President Laurent Gbagbo resigns in favor of his rival, who most observers agree won last month's elections.
The snow may be letting up in Germany and all the airports are open again, but for travelers, the damage is done. A four hour shutdown at Frankfurt's airport has caused a domino effect, stranding air passengers in Munich, Hanover and Berlin.
In Paris, the Eiffel Tower has reopened. French police were asking people not to drive unless they absolutely had to.
President Obama's tax package compromise has been shot down by his own party. House Democrats meeting amongst themselves voted against the proposal. It's unclear what will happen now. The deal would have seen Bush era tax cuts for wealthy Americans renewed in exchange for support to extend emergency unemployment benefits.
The White House's top economic adviser, Larry Summers, has warned of a double dip recession if the agreement isn't passed.
CNN's Christine Romans asked him if that's an overstatement.
LARRY SUMMERS, WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: Giving it my best judgment, which reflects, I think, the best judgments of a large number of economists who look at it, there are really two parts of this.
People had generally assumed, in making forecasts, that the Bush middle class tax cuts would be extended and that our unemployment insurance would be extended for a while. If that was to be pulled away, you would have had a major downwards revision in their forecasts.
In addition to that, this agreement provides for extra support for the economy that had not been anticipated through the payroll tax holiday, through the expensing provisions, the biggest business incentive we've ever had, that provides a spur to growth at a time when there's inevitably a bit more uncertainty because of what's happening in Europe.
So if you take the removal of the major risk factor and the additional support provided, I think you're looking at a program that has the potential to have a very decisive economic impact.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: But why the warning now, because White House aides have been telling us for months that the possibility of a double dip recession is really remote.
SUMMERS: Well, I think the warning reflects the fact that, you know, what's been a share assumption has been that a way through this tax debate was going to be found and that the middle class tax cuts would be extended. That has been the assumption underlying our economic forecasts and others.
If the tax debate proved so fractious that that wasn't possible, that would create a very difficult situation and would call forth the risks that were described.
If the president's initial proposals in his budget had been passed, those would have been sufficient. If the kind of bill that passed through the House but that the Senate was not prepared to pass had gone through, that would have been sufficient to maintain the momentum of recovery.
But a breakdown in the process, which could have occurred, would, in our judgment, have been very costly for the economy.
ROMANS: In layman's terms, how do you hit back at the Democrats, the Dem -- the critics who say this warning about a double dip recession is an exaggeration, it's an overstatement, that this is a political move?
SUMMERS: It's not a political move. It's an economic analysis. It's an economic analysis that tracks the judgment of many other economists. Look, in August of 2007, I warned that more was necessary if we were going to avoid a serious problem. A lot of people were scaremongering -- a lot of people thought that was scaremongering at that time.
So I think it's the right analysis of the economy. And it's an analysis that's widely shared.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUEST: That's the White House's chief economic adviser and that is Larry Summers, who, of course, will be returning to Harvard in the months ahead.
Now to Wall Street. Stocks are continuing to have trouble making much headway.
Carter Evans is at the New York Stock Exchange.
Not a lot of momentum despite, if you like, the way the day is moving.
And I'm wondering, is that based on end of year or is it based on fundamentals?
CARTER EVANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I -- I think today it has a lot to do with some fundamentals and especially the dollar. I mean the bulls are quite tame today. Stocks gained at the open. They pulled back.
Let's talk about the dollar for a second. Now, it's been falling in value against other currencies around the world since the Fed announced the quantitative easing plan. But this week, the dollar is on the rise. And that's putting pressure on stocks.
As for jobs here in the U.S., we got those weekly unemployment claims. They fell by 17,000 last week. That's better than expected. But 421,000 Americans still joined the unemployment lines and that is far too many. Many analysts feel that the weekly count of job claims has to drop below 400,000 and that would signal steady job creation. And the reading hasn't dipped below that level in two-and-a-half years.
Also, keep in mind, we're in the midst of the holiday shopping season here in the U.S. That means lots of seasonal jobs at retailers and restaurants and factories. Some of those workers could join the unemployment lines again after the holidays. Keep in mind, the unemployment rate in the U.S. is now 9.8 percent. Normal unemployment is somewhere around 5 percent. So while these numbers are showing some signs of improvement, we've still got a long way to go.
Also, Richard, there aren't a lot of people around trading for the holidays, so volume is really low and it has been low all week long -- back to you.
QUEST: And no doubt it will get worse as the Christmas and the new year holiday comes along.
Carter Evans, who is at the New York Stock Exchange.
Cyber attacks have been hitting Internet payment sites this week. We're going to be asking if it's all scaring customers away from shopping online.
QUEST: Now, we want to bring you more details on the student protests in London, where students have now attempted to break into the U.K.'s Treasury building, which is in Whitehall. You're looking at pictures there sent us a short time ago.
It all follows a day of demonstrations and minor violence over student protests. It was in the last hour or so, students attacked a car that was carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall. A window was broken and paint was thrown over the royal car. Charles and Camilla were not hurt.
We expect to have some pictures of that event, or at least those -- that incident for you in a short time.
The United States attorney general has been speaking out about the WikiLeaks. Eric Holder wants the source of the diplomatic cable leaks found and future leaks prevented.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have an active, ongoing serious investigation of that matter. We had, I think, informal conversations about the WikiLeaks matter, the concern that it has raised in the minds of all of us. And the hope here in the United States is that the investigation that we are conducting will allow us to hold accountable the people responsible for that unwarranted disclosure of information that has put at risk the safety of the American people and people who work on behalf of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Eric Holder, the U.S. attorney general, who is looking into the WikiLeaks.
Now, the leaks and the related cyber attacks have been a chilling eye- opener for the business world. They reveal just the weakness in the system. Payment companies were hit all week. What's clear is the online assaults come without warning and not even seemingly the large -- the largest companies are safe.
Gilles Ubaghs is a financial service analyst at Datamonitor, looking at credit cards and payment.
Even if the payment system as such was not impacted this time, the core word there is this time.
GILLES UBAGHS, FINANCIAL SERVICES ANALYST, DATAMONITOR: I think it's extremely unlikely. The payment system, it's -- it's a network. It's like -- it's like saying you're trying to take down the Internet. You can do small attacks. You can have -- you can take hits. You can definitely cause damage. But to actually say you can bring it down is virtually impossible. You know...
QUEST: No, you might not be able to bring the whole system down, but that's cold -- small comfort if you're one of the businesses that's hit. I suppose what I'm saying is we are now seeing a vulnerability that people like you knew about but the rest of us didn't.
UBAGHS: I don't think there's anything new here. The thing is, these companies, who are very good at security, they're very good at what they do, they've been dealing with these sorts of attacks for years.
Now, it's becoming a political issue. It's activists, hackers. They've been dealing with organized crime pouring huge amounts of money and huge amounts of resources, huge amounts of time into this for years.
I -- I -- I don't really see any difference here with what it is they've been dealing with before. These things do happen. It is the nature of the world we live in, if you will.
QUEST: How far are we ahead of the hackers or the crim -- I'll take organized crime, if -- if you like.
How far are we merely one stage ahead of them in being smarter than they are?
UBAGHS: It's always give and take. I mean, you know, they'll make advances, we'll make advance. You know, it's -- you read this story here about the Anonymous group. They've got huge amounts of people suddenly getting involved. The payment companies also have huge amounts of people getting involved.
When these things, you know, these -- these hiccups, they do happen, you know, these things do have impact. However, you know, it reacts. It adapts very quickly. They fill those plug holes. You know, I -- I can't say -- no one can say have of course, they will always find new loopholes, they will find new weak spots. Those will be found. This is -- it is an ongoing battle, you know, and by far, the payment companies definitely have the upper hand.
QUEST: I mean where does -- where, in all of that, though, does complacency by the payment companies come into -- into play?
They may be ahead of it, but at some point -- and I keep bashing on this -- they can't afford to be complacent.
UBAGHS: They're not. They're absolutely not complacent. The bigger factor here, it's not a security issue. It's a perception of security issue. If consumers become more wary about security, the actual attacks of security, they are a big issue. But it's that consumer fear that actually holds people back from...
QUEST: Well, are you seeing any...
UBAGHS: -- going online and having...
QUEST: -- are you seeing any evidence of consumer fear holding -- holding people back?
UBAGHS: No, absolutely not. What we've seen over the years from all the research we've done at Datamonitor, if you look, the -- you know, consumers, if you ask any consumer, do you care about online security, are you worried about payment security, of course they'll say yes. You'd be foolish not to.
However, if you look at what they're actually doing, you look at the tools they use, they still go to credit cards, they still go to debit cards. You know, those other more secure methods, PayPal, for instance, it's a tiny portion of the market. It's still very small.
Convenience still trumps security for most people.
Many thanks, indeed, for joining us.
UBAGHS: Thank you.
QUEST: A fascinating -- a fascinating issue.
Now, when we return, we'll be talking to the AOL co-founder, Steve Case. Despite having his own charitable foundation, he tells us why he decided to sign the pledge to give away his money.
QUEST: First it was Bill and Melinda Gates and then, of course, they were joined by Warren Buffet and The Giving Pledge was born. Together, they have asked America's richest families to promise to donate large chunks of their fortunes to philanthropic causes.
AOL co-founder Steve Case and his wife already have their own charitable foundation. But they've signed The Giving Pledge.
I asked Steve Case why he felt the need to sign up.
STEVE CASE, CO-FOUNDER, AOL: Well, I don't think we felt a need, but we decided it was the right thing to do. And really for -- for two reasons. One was we thought it could help inspire other people to -- to participate, not just people with significant wealth, but also everybody. We -- we've done a lot of things with the Case Foundation, trying to democratize philanthropy. So we thought that was important.
And the other aspect we thought was important was to get all the people who are part of this Giving Pledge to get together and compare notes and best practices and learn from successes as well as failures, because I think we've all learned that giving away money in a responsible, impactful way is difficult. And getting people to share those best practices so that we can all learn from each other and leverage our investments, we think that was also a -- a second benefit.
QUEST: Maybe because I'm English and talking about personal money always embarrass the English, as I'm sure you know...
QUEST: But -- but how much do you estimate, between yourself and your wife, that the totality of the pledge will be by -- when all is said and done?
CASE: Well, I think on that front, we're going to be a little bit more like you and be English and -- and -- and duck the question, because it -- it is a little personal. But we have made significant investments already in terms of a whole variety of -- causes. We started the Case Foundation in 1997. We were both still in our -- in our 30s. By the way, Jean, my wife, runs the foundation. She should be the one here, but she had another commitment. So I'm sorry you're stuck with me as a stand-in.
QUEST: Oh, no, I assure you, we're -- we're not.
The -- the concept of giving, the concept of philanthropy, we're -- Bill Gates, with the foundation, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Warren Buffet joining on, they very much gave it a -- a new emphasis and a new impetus, didn't they?
CASE: I think they did. You know, Bill and Melinda have done great things with their -- with their foundation. Initially, obviously, they focused for probably 20 years on building Microsoft. That in itself had a significant positive impact on the world, much as we felt the growth of the Internet companies like AOL had a -- had a positive impact.
But at some point, they decided, I think when they were in their 30s, as well, to pivot and not just focus on the business side of things, but also on the philanthropod -- the philanthropy side of things. And they've done terrific things through the foundation and now through this Giving Pledge, where they're really trying to magnify that through this partnership.
QUEST: Right. But -- but there is a difference, isn't there?
And I've been reading the letter that you sent to the -- the foundation -- to the Gates Foundation. There is a difference between just giving and philanthropy, isn't there?
In philanthropy, there has to be a concept behind that which you're doing.
So what is your personal concept in the way you're doing this?
CASE: Well, I think the lines blur there. I think there's a lot of ways to give back in the world. And it starts with the premise both Jean and I have, with is to those who have been lucky enough and blessed enough to get significant resources, they really have a responsibility to -- to give back in a constructive way. And there's a variety of ways, including sometimes actually funding businesses that can change the world.
Our -- our -- our mission for the Case Foundation and actually the same as the mission for Revolution, our investment company, which is we invest in people and ideas that can change the world.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
QUEST: Steve Case talking to me about the foundation and signing the pledge.
Now, earlier in the program, I was telling you that students in London have been protesting against tuition fees attacked a car that as carrying Prince Charles and his wife, Camilla. Here is video that was shot a short time ago. There's the royal car. And if I'm not mistaken, it looks like they're at the London Palladium.
And -- oh, that's the -- you're looking at the back of the car there. And you can see the car was, obviously, attacked with paint. And a lot of noise and -- and a window, interestingly there, the window was cracked, too, on the Rolls Royce. The police now swarming around it.
Both Charles and Camilla were OK.
Joining me now to talk, Geoff Hill is one of our news gathering staff -- Geoff, what happened?
It all looks rather unpleasant, that.
GEOFF HILL, CNN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: Yes, it was a bit of a surprise. I was just on my way out of the bureau to collect the tapes from one of our producers who's been following the demonstration all day. And I had arranged to meet him on the corner of Regent Street. And there was a lot of commotion and police cars and an escort coming up the road. And I thought this was a bit strange.
And around the corner, I saw the royal car, Charles and Camilla. And the next thing I noticed was that it had clearly been attacked. There was paint on the back and on Charles' side of the car, the window was cracked.
So -- so my instincts kicked in. My phone was in my pocket with the - - with the password locked. So I chased after the car, where they were going toward the -- to the Royal Variety performance around the corner. And I just started recording some pictures as soon as I could.
QUEST: So where -- do we know where the attack actually took place on the car?
No, because it's not -- it was not outside, obviously, the London Palladium, which is just around the corner from where we are.
HILL: Well, my understanding is it happened further down Regent Street toward Westminster, for those of you who don't know London. The protesters have been in Westminster all day and we've been following them, as you know. And they made their way from there to Leicester Square and a large crowd had gone up Regent Street heading toward Oxford Street, which is where our bureau is located. So I believe it happened slightly earlier and I just caught the tail end of it.
QUEST: The Princess of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are safe. And I would imagine, by now, enjoying a royal variety performance of whatever it is they were going to see the London Palladium.
HILL: Yes, they didn't look too perturbed by it. You know, they had a stiff upper lip and a royal face. I missed them actually walking out of the car, unfortunately. But like I say, we got some pictures of the car.
QUEST: Just tell me, Geoff, let's talk a little more generally about the day's events and these tuition demonstrations.
I was talking to Dan Rivers, who said there were ugly scenes. They weren't as bad as we've seen before.
Is that a testament to the abilities of the police or the lack of -- it's a very cold day in London and the protesters weren't going to come out?
HILL: Well, I think it's probably a combination of the two. I think if we go back to the Milabank protests some weeks ago, I think the police, by their own admission, were slightly under prepared for that. And I don't think they expected such a show of force. Then the second time we saw these kettling (ph) techniques by the police -- there were large numbers of police and fewer demonstrators.
On this occasion, I think it slightly balanced itself out more and...
QUEST: Finally, and briefly, the actual core issue, tuition fees, austerity, government cutbacks, was this a seminal day today for Britain's ruling coalition, Conservatives and Dems?
HILL: Well, that is a very, very big question. And that remains to be seen. I think this is obviously clear, the biggest test the coalition government has had thus far. I think it's very interesting that there were 20 abstentions, probably a high number -- more than 20 abstentions, probably a higher number than the coalition had thought. And there were some very grim faces from the senior members of the Liberal Democrats, as they were having to vote yes for something that they clearly didn't support before the election.
QUEST: Geoff, many thanks, indeed.
We started the with the royal family. We end it with tuition fees and the coalition.
It's all in a day's work for our news gathering staff here at CNN.
When I come back in just a moment, a Profitable Moment. And we'll return to the concept of the hacker.
QUEST: Tonight's Profitable Moment.
They claim, of course, that they are doing it in the name of freedom of speech -- a lack of censorship. The Anonymous hackers, that hackavists, as they are known, that have been attacking PayPal.
There was a moment of honesty from them today, when they said that there simply wasn't enough of them to attack companies like Amazon.
What does it all mean for the likes of you and me?
And why are we now only just really coming to realize how vulnerable we are?
As I said earlier with Ali Velshi, it's the arrival of gadgets, Smartphones, iPads and the sheer number of computers that we use every day.
Unfortunately, I wish I could say that this is a war we are going to win -- but I don't think it is. The very best we can hope is that we stay one step ahead of the hackavists, because they could be coming to a site near you.
And that's QUEST MEANS BUSINESS for tonight.
I'm Richard Quest in London.
Whatever you're up to in the hours ahead, I hope it's profitable.
"WORLD ONE" is next with complete coverage of the student protests, including that attack on Prince Charles' car.