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Apple leak memo leaks, threatening employee termination and arrests


For the second time in a year, Apple has issued a warning to leaking employees, only for the warning to leak to the public.  Taking the form of a news story-like internal memo, the warning comes nearly six years after Apple CEO  Tim Cook claimed that Apple would double down on secrecy on products, only to see major leaks continue each year. The dark new memo sharply contrasts with the companys typically sunny public face, describing Apples efforts to catch and fire leakers who have betrayed the companys trust. After warning employees that theyre getting played by outsiders looking for information, the memo threatens leakers with the loss of jobs, the possibility of arrests or fines, and extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. It notes that Apple caught 29 leakers in 2017, including employees, contractors, and partners in its supply chain. Though Apple frames the issue as one of internal security, the core is its inability to fully control the narrative about its products, which it has questionably claimed might reduce sales when the products actually arrive. We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, Greg Joswiak, vice president of product marketing, says in the memo, and not have that done poorly by someone else. But thanks to its massive product unveilings and marketing machine, Apple has more of an opportunity to pitch directly to customers than most vendors — and frequent leaks certainly havent stopped it from becoming the worlds largest company. If anything, intriguing tidbits on upcoming products have helped maintain a persistent buzz about Apple despite extended lulls in official communications. And the company is known to have quietly leaked information through its own unofficial methods, whenever it deems them worthwhile. In June, a similar warning to employees leaked in the form of an audio recording obtained by The Outline. Described as coming from a private briefing that was the first of many Apple is planning to host for employees, the recording included a keep [your] mouth shut video, behind-the-scenes details from investigations, and Apple internal investigators spotlighting their military and legal credentials.  While the company blamed factory leaks for a trench warfare non-stop war to protect secrets in Asia, it said that 2016 had been the first year that Apple [campuses] leaked more than the supply chain. But Apple was rapidly clamping down on leakers inside and outside the company, the 2017 briefing said, and had reduced the number of annually stolen product casings from 387 in 2014 to 4 in 2016. During an employee Q&A, the companys director of global security was described as gleefully recounting how a blogger threw shade at Bloombergs star Apple reporter Mark Gurman for not leaking major details on the HomePod speaker, saying yeah, you got nothing. Following the leak to The Outline, Bloomberg — and others — had a marquee year. After almost every major detail on the iPhone X, iPhone 8, and iPhone 8 Plus leaked, as did Apples 2018 plans for both iOS and macOS, as well as details about the companys upcoming Apple Watch and iPad revisions. Not surprisingly, Gurman was also first to report on the leak of the memo, which is reprinted in full below. Last month, Apple caught and fired the employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apples software roadmap. Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance, and thousands more within the organization received details of its proceedings. One person betrayed their trust. The employee who leaked the meeting to a reporter later told Apple investigators that he did it because he thought he wouldnt be discovered. But people who leak — whether theyre Apple employees, contractors or suppliers — do get caught and theyre getting caught faster than ever. In many cases, leakers dont set out to leak. Instead, people who work for Apple are often targeted by press, analysts and bloggers who befriend them on professional and social networks like LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook and begin to pry for information. While it may seem flattering to be approached, its important to remember that youre getting played. The success of these outsiders is measured by obtaining Apples secrets from you and making them public. A scoop about an unreleased Apple product can generate massive traffic for a publication and financially benefit the blogger or reporter who broke it. But the Apple employee who leaks has everything to lose. The impact of a leak goes far beyond the people who work on a project. Leaking Apples work undermines everyone at Apple and the years theyve invested in creating Apple products. Thousands of people work tirelessly for months to deliver each major software release, says UIKit lead Josh Shaffer, whose teams work was part of the iOS 11 leak last fall. Seeing it leak is devastating for all of us. The impact of a leak goes beyond the people who work on a particular project — its felt throughout the company. Leaked information about a new product can negatively impact sales of the current model; give rival companies more time to begin on a competitive response; and lead to fewer sales of that new product when it arrives. We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great, and not have that done poorly by someone else, says Greg Joswiak of Product Marketing. Investments by Apple have had an enormous impact on the companys ability to identify and catch leakers. Just before last Septembers special event, an employee leaked a link to the gold master of iOS 11 to the press, again believing he wouldnt be caught. The unreleased OS detailed soon-to-be-announced software and hardware including iPhone X. Within days, the leaker was identified through an internal investigation and fired. Global Securitys digital forensics also helped catch several employees who were feeding confidential details about new products including iPhone X, iPad Pro and AirPods to a blogger at 9to5Mac. Last year Apple caught 29 leakers. Leakers in the supply chain are getting caught, too. Global Security has worked hand-in-hand with suppliers to prevent theft of Apples intellectual property as well as to identify individuals who try to exceed their access. Theyve also partnered with suppliers to identify vulnerabilities — both physical and technological — and ensure their security levels meet or exceed Apples expectations. These programs have nearly eliminated the theft of prototypes and products from factories, caught leakers and prevented many others from leaking in the first place. Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple. In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes. In 2017, Apple caught 29 leakers. 12 of those were arrested. Among those were Apple employees, contractors and some partners in Apples supply chain. These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. The potential criminal consequences of leaking are real, says Tom Moyer of Global Security, and that can become part of your personal and professional identity forever. While they carry serious consequences, leaks are completely avoidable. They are the result of a decision by someone who may not have considered the impact of their actions. Everyone comes to Apple to do the best work of their lives — work that matters and contributes to what all 135,000 people in this company are doing together, says Joswiak. The best way to honor those contributions is by not leaking.

Apple details its crackdown on leakers…in a leaked memo


In an internal memo to employees, Apple threatened severe consequences for leaking confidential company information – reminding staff that those who leak can lose their jobs, have difficult finding future employment, and even get arrested. Last year, Apple claimed to have busted 29 leakers, 12 of whom were arrested. The memo itself was leaked, and its content was published by Bloomberg this afternoon. Apple has always cultivated a culture of confidentially about its work, as a means of maintaining a competitive advantage over the competition. Given how large Apple has grown over the years – the memo says there are 135,000 people working there – its become more difficult to keep things under wraps. By the time a new iPhone launches, for example, people already know what to expect. That can give rivals a head start on catching up with Apple, ahead of an actual public unveiling of the device. Leaks can also impact sales of current devices, as consumers hold off on buying as they know something better is soon to arrive. Apple more recently has had problems with leaked iOS source code, as well as leaked details about the iPhone 8 and X, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, HomePod, and more. And that was just in 2017. The new memo is not the first time Apple has tried to plug its leaks. Last year, the company held a meeting with employees where it discussed how it plans to prevent leaks, talked about how leakers were caught, and answered employees questions. That meeting was secretly recorded and leaked to the press too. In reality, some leaks can be harder to track or stop. A company-wide meeting or email, for instance, could be leaked by anyone. The new memo begins by informing Apple employees that the person who leaked details about Apples software roadmap earlier this year was caught and fired last month: Last month, Apple caught and fired the employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apples software roadmap. Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance, and thousands more within the organization received details of its proceedings. One person betrayed their trust. The employee who leaked the meeting to a reporter later told Apple investigators that he did it because he thought he wouldnt be discovered. But people who leak — whether theyre Apple employees, contractors or suppliers — do get caught and theyre getting caught faster than ever. The memo then goes on to stress how damaging leaks are to the company itself, those who worked on a project, and other employees. It reminds employees that when theyre approached by press, analysts and bloggers theyre getting played. The establishment of a very us-versus-them culture when dealing with outsiders is notable because it means Apple employees may fear becoming whistleblowers. Employees will likely also fear leaking to correct inaccurate information being passed around publicly. Today, there are reports that Apples own comms teams wont respond to, when asked by press – unless the report reaches a critical mass, or worse – is unflattering to Apple. But unlike at other companies where a PM or staffer may reach out to privately correctly a detail or give background outside of official channels, Apple staff would be fired for crossing that line. The memo also points to more examples of how Apples internal security has caught people who believed they could get away with it – including the person who leaked the link to the gold master of iOS 11, and those who leaked within the supply chain. It concludes by sharing the news that 12 of the leakers in 2017 were arrested. Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple. In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes, the memo read. These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. Theres a certain kind of person who will find language like this a challenge. But the majority will likely take heed. The memo was published as an internal company blog post. The full memo can be read on Bloombergs site.