Apple internal presentation about fighting leaks was leaked
Apple reportedly uses an intensely secretive corporate culture, a screening system more thorough than the TSA’s, and a crack team of investigators with ties to the FBI and NSA to prevent leaks about its products from getting out.
Still, some secrets slip out, which is exactly how we know about these extreme measures.
A recording of an internal briefing about Apple’s efforts, aptly named “Stopping Leakers: Keeping Confidential at Apple,” was itself leaked to The Outline earlier this month.
The hour-long presentation, which was reportedly given to about 100 employees, revealed new details about the programs Apple has put in place to discourage its employees from sharing confidential information with the outside world.
The briefing was bookended with video presentations featuring Apple employees discussing how the leaks affect their work, calling the breaches “gut-wrenching” and demonizing leakers as those willing to let everyone else in the company down.
Many leaks in the past have come from Apple’s manufacturing partners in China, where low-wage workers could earn as much for selling one secret as they could in several months or even a year on the assembly line, so there’s an intense focus on screening the workers to prevent anyone from smuggling out parts of the supply chain. Those physical leaks are typically housings — the metal backs of the iPhone.
The presenters claimed Apple’s 40 factories process 2.7 million workers a day, which is more than the TSA’s 1.8 million peak volume of screenings. The system has been effective, however: The presenters said, in 2016, four of the 65 million housings Apple produced were stolen which is a one in 16 million loss ratio.
More leaks came from Apple’s HQ in Cupertino than China, which could explain why the briefing was held in the first place. Two US-based leakers in particular were singled out as having provided information to “bloggers,” serving as cautionary tales to the audience.
Leaks in Cupertino and abroad are the focus of Apple’s Global Security team. The force is broken out into multiple groups, like the New Product Security (NPS), which works to prevent leaks before they happen, and the investigations team, which doggedly tracks the sources, even after the damage is done.
Some of the members of these teams boast backgrounds at the highest levels of the military, national security, and intelligence organizations; the report claims some of the Apple employees have ties to the FBI, the Secret Service, the NSA, the DIA, and the Department of State.
Why does Apple care so much?
Apple’s focus on secrecy is as much a part of the company’s DNA as its emphasis on design and its commitment to “think different,” so it should come as no surprise that the company goes to extraordinary lengths to keep its work under wraps.
It also shouldn’t come as a surprise that those efforts are now out in the public, highlighting Apple’s constant battle to stay ahead of those who would expose the company to the curious world hungry for inside info about the next One More Thing. Tim Cook recently blamed leaks on a dip in iPhone sales directly, as the torrent of rumors flooding the news cycle about the iPhone 8 has incited speculation on a massive scale, as market analysts prep for an impending “super cycle” of upgrades.
When we reached out to Apple’s reps for comment about the report, they declined to provide any statement. Unsurprisingly, it goes against the company’s PR policy to comment on rumors and speculation about its inner workings.