Apple has former NSA, FBI investigators cracking down on leaks of company information

Apple has hired investigators who previously worked for the NSA, FBI, Secret Service and US military in an effort to crack down on product leaks coming from the company’s employees, The Outline reports. In a briefing titled “Stopping Leakers – Keeping Confidential at Apple,” members of the Global Security communications and training team laid out how Apple investigators are working to prevent information from getting into the hands of the press, counterfeiters and competitors, as well as hunting down the sources of the leaks. In a video played during the presentation, Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Vice President of iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing, said, “This has become a big deal for Tim. Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can’t tolerate this any longer.”
Leaks previously tended to come from supply chain sources, which is where Director of Global Security David Rice’s New Product Security team focuses. Black market sellers sitting outside factory dorms and bus stops can offer as much as a year’s salary for those willing to smuggle out a crucial component, leading Apple’s team to perform up to 2.7 million employee screenings a day — almost a million more than the TSA does at every airport in the US combined. But Rice said the company has been so effective at cracking down on those leaks that “Last year was the first year that Apple [campuses] leaked more than the supply chain. More stuff came out of Apple [campuses] last year than all of our supply chain combined.”

Housings for iPhones and Macs are the most important, since as Rice says, “If you have a housing, you pretty much know what we’re going to ship.” In 2013 Apple went so far as to buy back 19,000 stolen enclosures before the iPhone 5C announcement to keep them out of the hands of tech bloggers. Rice said the number of stolen enclosures in 2016 was down to four and gloated at how quiet Apple was able to keep the HomePod before it was released, but the crackdowns in the supply chain exposed that more information was coming out of Apple than was previously thought. The presentation focused on a few cases where leaks were investigated over the course of several years and led to Apple Store and iTunes employees who had long-standing ties to the company. While being careful to mention that employees should still feel able to gripe about their boss or bring improper activities to the attention of authorities, Rice said there are clear rules that Apple expects to be followed in regards to keeping absolute secrecy about new products.  “I go through a lot of trouble not to talk about what I work on with my wife, with my teenage kids… with my friends, my family,” one employee says in the final video. “I’m not telling you that you give up all relationships,” Rice says, “but that you have a built-in relationship monitor that you’re constantly using.”


Dan Pye was a news editor at iLounge. He's been involved with technology his whole life, and started writing about it in 2009. He's written about everything from iPhone and iPad cases to Apple TV accessories.