Apple is known for its secrecy, but journalists and bloggers have nonetheless reported about many of the company’s recent products beforehand. A new report now suggests that most of these leaks come directly from Apple employees, as opposed to contract manufacturers.
The Outline got its hands on a recording of an internal briefing on Apple’s fight against leaks. The company is running an internal global security team to fight leaks, and hunt down leakers. The team is being led by former members of U.S. spy agencies, and reportedly spent three years on investigating, and eventually unmasking, one leaker.
These kinds of internal investigations aren’t unheard of in tech. Most of the big tech companies employ internal security teams for this very purpose, and often use a number of tricks to unmask leakers.
However, Apple is unique in that it manufactures large numbers of devices in secrecy in order to be able to sell the next iPhone just days after it is being announced. In the past, this often led to leaks coming out of the massive factories in China that make Apple’s products.
But Apple and its contract manufacturers have reportedly been able to crack down on leaks at manufacturers in recent years. In 2013, employees at factories assembling the iPhone stole some 19,000 enclosures before the device was even announced, and then sold them on the black market. In 2014, that number was down to 387. By 2016, Apple only had 4 stolen enclosures.
These enclosures are particularly sensitive for Apple, since they reveal the screen size, ports and other key elements of a device.
However, while leaks overseas have been stopped, there is still plenty of leaking going on at Apple itself. That why the company is encouraging employees not to talk to anyone, not even their families, about their work. That approach seems to have its limits, as the leaked recording about leaking shows.