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Apple desperate to protect its secrets

Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, speaks during an announcement of new products at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose, Calif., Monday, June 5, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

APPLE is famous for the intense secrecy it enforces around the development of new products.

It prides itself on groundbreaking product unveils and to do that, it needs the element of surprise.

So it guards its secrets very closely indeed.

But ironically, a leak from inside the company shows just how far Apple goes to protect its secrets and prevent information getting out.

A detailed account published by The Outline this week has revealed how the tech giant keeps things under wraps.

The publication obtained a recording from an internal briefing at the company earlier this month titled "Stopping Leakers - Keeping Confidential at Apple".

The employee briefing included videos that sound more like something you'd expect from an induction course at the Secret Service.

"When I see a leak in the press, for me, it's gut-wrenching," an Apple employee reportedly says in one video. "It really makes me sick to my stomach."

A second Apple employee also talks about how much he hates loose lips.

"When you leak this information, you're letting all of us down. It's our company, the reputation of the company, the hard work of the different teams that work on this stuff."

The tech giant has what amounts to an army of security personnel, many of whom formally worked for the likes of the FBI, NSA, the Secret Service and the US military who are now tasked with ensuring the clandestine nature of Apple's work.

They're also tasked with tracking down the source of any product leaks that do happen.

According to the article, Apple plants "secrecy members" in certain product teams to keep an eye on things and has screening systems at manufacturing plants that rivals any major airport.

In particular, the company has focused on stamping out leaks from overseas manufacturing plants - but it's harder than you might think. It's a cat-and-mouse game fuelled by black market demand for trade secrets that can fetch top dollar.

Former NSA employee and cryptologist for the US Navy, David Rice, now heads up Apple's Global Security team.

"We deal with very talented adversaries," Mr Rice said in the secret recording, reported The Outline.

"They're very creative and so as good as we get on our security controls, they get just as clever."

In 2004 Apple co-founder and then CEO, Steve Jobs, who was famous for his secrecy tried unsuccessfully to subpoena a group of tech bloggers to hand over their Apples sources.

Tim Cook is the man at the helm now but he appears to have taken up the mantle when it comes to secrecy.

In 2012, photos of the iPhone 5 leaked. They were thought to be sold on the black market and quickly found their way online.

It was the same year that Tim Cook publicly talked about doubling down on secrecy at a tech conference.

From Apple's point of view, it's all an effort to afford them the ability to "surprise and delight" when it does show off its products.

Greg Joswiak, Apple's vice-president of iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing also featured in the briefing video with some words that wouldn't feel out of place in a mafia movie.

"I have faith deep in my soul that if we hire smart people they're gonna think about this, they're gonna understand this, and ultimately they're gonna do the right thing, and that's to keep their mouth shut," Mr Joswiak said.

Topics:  apple security

News Corp Australia


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