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Product leaks prompt Apple CEO Tim Cook to take security to new levels

post #1 of 62
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Security practices at Apple under Tim Cook are now even tighter than they were when Steve Jobs was at the helm, according to a new in-depth look at the company's secrecy.

Jacqui Cheng of Ars Technica published a new look at Apple's security and the effect it has on the company's engineering teams. For the feature, she spoke with a number of sources at Apple about paranoia, and how some employees believe the increased security may be having a negative effect on Apple's engineers.

In one example, an unnamed employee said only a handful of Apple workers were allowed to take a new iOS device off campus for real-life use. That person found it "really disturbing" that a device that would be shipped to millions of customers would see such limited testing.

The story was published as Apple is set to hold a media event on Tuesday, at which it is expected to unveil a smaller 7.85-inch iPad along with new Macs. Numerous details on the still-unannounced products have leaked months in advance, including pictures claiming to show the future devices.

It was the same situation a month ago, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 5 with a taller 4-inch display, as well as a new iPod touch and iPod nano. Most details about those products, including pictures of the devices before their official unveiling, leaked onto the Internet weeks and even months in advance.

Leaks


The unnamed Apple employees who Cheng spoke with indicated that the frequency of product leaks is just a byproduct of globalization. One employee said Apple's security practices are designed to prevent U.S. employees from leaking information, but most product leaks come from China, where Apple's devices are assembled and packaged.

"The leaks may be a result of Apple's impressive manufacturing operations ??which are largely credited to the expertise of Tim Cook, who built his expertise in operations and supply chain management," Cheng wrote. "The results for users have been impressive: do you want your iPhone 5 assembled the minute you place the order online and shipped to your home days later, or do you want to wait six months before it arrives?"




Cook himself vowed in an interview in May of this year that Apple would "double down" on secrecy and security. Though the CEO said he was "very serious" about stopping leaks, information about and pictures of Apple's iPhone 5, new iPods, and anticipated "iPad mini" have all leaked before their formal unveiling.

Product leaks ahead of their announcement are said to be upsetting for Apple engineers, who are proud of the company's product unveilings. But the leaks are also said to cause Apple to "react by clamping down harder on the employees it can control."

"They keep tightening up things on us ??there are code names upon code names upon code names," one unnamed employee told Cheng.

For more, see the full story published Monday at Ars Technica.
post #2 of 62

So… "doubling down", as it were. 

 

And why would they care about people mocking stuff up? They're pitched as mock-ups, not the actual product.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

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post #3 of 62

Good!

 

I've been saying all along that all of these leaks are ridiculous, and heads need to roll. Tightened security should definitely be a priority.

post #4 of 62
I'll admit, since all of the product / part leaks, I've been less excited about product launches. That was one thing that I always looked forward to, the things I didn't know was coming out. No more "One more thing"... 1frown.gif

 

 

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post #5 of 62
I don't agree if this is the focus. The leaks that are killing them are the parts coming out of Asia and not leaks from the engineers. Testing devices in the wild was obviously problematic for them given the iPhone 4 fiasco, and the incident in SF.

It is time to go beat on the suppliers. That is what I see as the most costly leaks.
post #6 of 62
@tallest They're pitched as being made from actual products and impact the stock market as if they were actual products. Stock market manipulation is in a wild fire state of insanity. Anyone can provide a "mock up" of a suggested Apple product and people will believe it's the real thing. Many of these mock ups are being released to show a lack of functionality, again manipulating stock prices. Apple is serious about their real products being copied (sorry, Samsung, you did copy no matter what a judge says) so allowing anything to be seen by people other than those you absolutely trust is a bad thing. This isn't just Apple we're talking about, it's any company planning on releasing a new product that doesn't want a competitor to release something similar before they release their product. Product development security is important, don't eve think it isn't.
post #7 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple II[ View Post

Good!

I've been saying all along that all of these leaks are ridiculous, and heads need to roll. Tightened security should definitely be a priority.

F... that. Let them fly and get people excited. Intel makes the processors,, nVidia (for the time being) makes the graphics, etc. nothing is a true shock.

Put out a great product and it will sell. Leaks or not.
post #8 of 62
Don't forget, lots of other supposed "leaks" turned out to not be true. Other than the iPhone 4, there has always been at least doubt that these leaks are true. Even now, we're not 100% sure there's going to be an "iPad Mini", nor what the details will be if there is one.

The engineers may be unhappy, but the buzz created by the leaks is invaluable PR for Apple. And still, most normal people don't even hear about them. I'd say there's little damage done, and while they should continue to try to stop the leaks, too much effort is wasted energy.
post #9 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

And my conclusion is that you are in serious tinfoil hat territory.

 

Apple gets all of the PR that it does, because it is the best and most influential tech company on the planet, with hundreds of millions of extremely happy customers. And when Apple releases a new product, it is news everywhere, and the media are going to write about it, because everybody is interested in reading about what the most innovative tech company is up to.

 

Your theory makes no sense at all, it is quite delusional to put it rather mildly. When somebody presents a retarded conspiracy theory, the burden is on them to provide proof to back up their insane ramblings.

 

Apple's products don't sell because of PR, they sell because Apple consistently delivers kick fucking ass products, and people are more than happy to fork over their hard earned money to own said products.

easy, sparky.  The idea of intentional leaks isn't new or unusual.  The rumors abuzz definitely help word get out, long before the actual release.

post #10 of 62
All these people with their conspiracy theories remind me of those who think Apple intentionally constrained supply of the iPhone 5 to increase demand. 1rolleyes.gif
post #11 of 62

Frankly leaks are always going to happen, especially when you deal with the scale of mainstream products. It's too easy to get something out on the internet. 

I'm not a pessimist. I'm an optimist, with experience.
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I'm not a pessimist. I'm an optimist, with experience.
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post #12 of 62

I find it kind of funny (if its true) if the engineers are complaining about not taking the phone out for testing considering the hillarious, PR-wrecking stories of them leaving highly-classified phones in bars.  That's just inexcusable.

I agree with some posters here that if anything, Apple really needs to tighten the noose around the folks in China that leak the photos.  It's a tough, if not impossible, job to do considering the countless steps in the supply chain that I would not even begin to visualize.

 

If anyone can do it, Tim Cook can.  Every tech company out there would love to have Tim Cook's expertise in this area.

post #13 of 62
Maybe they should double down on quality control instead of worrying about this. If anything, the leaks generate buzz which generate sales. I'm not buying it.
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post #14 of 62

Apple really needs to tighten security in China, not in its headquarters and labs.

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Apple had me at scrolling
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post #15 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phone-UI-Guy View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by NakedApe2 View Post

I think you should post this a few more times... Looks like the last 15 times wasn't good enough. 1wink.gif

I'd thumb this up, but can't as I'm on an iPad right now. Nonetheless, what the bleep happened here?
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post #16 of 62

Honestly, when the sources of the leaks are coming out of Asia and outside of Apple control what can they do. They probably threaten companies which never doing business with them again, and it that is the only company who makes the particular part for Apple then it is easy to say they let it leak, but in most cases Apple probably has 2 or 3 companies making the same parts. 

 

But, taking it out on the employees will be a bad thing in the long run since at some point people will go else where so not to work they are being watched.

post #17 of 62
Didn't he say that earlier, only to have the iPhone 5 leaked in it's entirety throughout its development?
post #18 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Apple really needs to tighten security in China, not in its headquarters and labs.

I would say both. There have been a few incidents with lazy, careless and/or drunk Apple employees.

 

But yes, security in China definitely need to be stepped up also.

post #19 of 62

Rumor: New Apple TV!
Made in China

 

Leaked image of the new Apple TV with the power turned off.

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post #20 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


I'd thumb this up, but can't as I'm on an iPad right now. Nonetheless, what the bleep happened here?

 

 

I hit Submit, and nothing happened.  I hit it again, and got a beach ball, and then that cleared and I got the same screen as though it was not submitted.  So I tried again and again.

 

And what accounts for all the nastiness directed towards a new poster? Why does this site allow it?

post #21 of 62
Grass is always greener. The Apple engineer whining about tight security will be the same one who whines when his stock price tanks due to the missing allure of Apple's product unveilings.

Cheer up boss; your company is riding high right now. Cherish its protocols, as it's what's allowing you to drive that sweet-ass car and to live in an area where a million-dollar home looks like meth lab in any other part of the country.
post #22 of 62
Holy Octo-post Batman!
post #23 of 62

I think people are practically able to rebuild the devices from some of these part leaks. How many parts were leaked for the iPhone 5? Even the iPad Mini had some part leaks.

post #24 of 62

This is a great site but it is rare to see repetitive posts go on for 15 posts.  Most people are friendly and trying to poke fun.

Don't give up on the site, it's a great apple info site!

post #25 of 62
There are folks here who have criticized Tim Cook for running a looser ship than Steve Jobs. This article (or rather the one at Ars) clearly shows what any intelligent person would have discerned - it is difficult to keep the lid completely closed when you are ramping up to build millions of units of any products and when there is more interest in your products than just about any other company in the world. This challenge increases every year because the number of suppliers is increasing, the production volumes are escalating and the level of interest is mounting.

Comments like "Steve would not allowed these leaks" should not appear again; they are simple indictment of the intellect of those who write them.
post #26 of 62
Quote:

Last time:  Why the heck won't this post?

You've said that before, Why should we believe you this time?

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post #27 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


In one example, an unnamed employee said only a handful of Apple workers were allowed to take a new iOS device off campus for real-life use. That person found it "really disturbing" that a device that would be shipped to millions of customers would see such limited testing.

How was it with the first iPhone? I guess there weren't so many engineers involved at that time, were there?

post #28 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac-user View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post


In one example, an unnamed employee said only a handful of Apple workers were allowed to take a new iOS device off campus for real-life use. That person found it "really disturbing" that a device that would be shipped to millions of customers would see such limited testing.

How was it with the first iPhone? I guess there weren't so many engineers involved at that time, were there?

They also pre announced it several months in advance.

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post #29 of 62
Apple legal used to issue cease-and-desist orders to sites that published photos of components etc. (Remember ThinkSecret.com?) I wonder why they don't do that any more.

As for component leaks from suppliers, I doubt that can ever be stopped. Device repair companies probably pay factory workers to sneak parts out of factories. They get tons of page hits and publicity when they post photos of leaked parts. (And the workers could even bring the parts back the same day, after the photos are taken, so nothing is "missing" for long.)

The need for tight security begins years ahead of an actual product release. If Apple can keep product plans secret, then they'll have a huge lead time over their competitors / copiers. This is when it's critical to prevent leaks from Apple engineers and designers. Especially since Apple spends quite a long time evaluating, iterating, and polishing each product. But just a few weeks from product release, security isn't that critical. In fact, spy photos may actually increase demand for the products. (Possibly answering my own question in the first paragraph.)

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post #30 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They also pre announced it 6 months in advance.

oh, sorry, I forgot this tiny detail. You're right.
So, it means the risk of any issue not being discovered and corrected is more likely with any new version of an existing product line but a completely new category.

post #31 of 62
Dont be fooled these leaks are goid for marketing.
post #32 of 62

GET BENT, CONRADJOE.

 

Or would you prefer Hyrem Gestan? I am a Zither Zather Zuzz? NakedApe2? George Howard? Joe Blicker? Howser? josephj? Heller? Josephus? Terrence22? ignatz? JerrySwitched26? 

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #33 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mstone View Post

They also pre announced it several months in advance.

But they also had a working models at announcement.  Hardware was done... it was the software that was being fine tuned. 

post #34 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tallest Skil View Post

GET BENT, CONRADJOE.

 

Or would you prefer Hyrem Gestan? I am a Zither Zather Zuzz? NakedApe2? George Howard? Joe Blicker? Howser? josephj? Heller? Josephus? Terrence22? ignatz? JerrySwitched26? 

How can you recognize users, by IP address? and what if his/her ISP changes it daily?

post #35 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by bkerkay View Post

But they also had a working models at announcement.  Hardware was done... it was the software that was being fine tuned. 

a working prototype that the members of the tech media could try after the announcement, each one for a few minutes...
anyway, hardware can be tested in labs, IMO.

post #36 of 62
Who the hell goes to work at Apple and yet is amazed at its tight security measures? Get the faq outta here!
post #37 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac-user View Post

How was it with the first iPhone? I guess there weren't so many engineers involved at that time, were there?


Or perhaps, it wasn't in mass production yet. For sure, it wasn't being produced at nearly the same scale.

post #38 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by sflocal View Post

I find it kind of funny (if its true) if the engineers are complaining about not taking the phone out for testing considering the hillarious, PR-wrecking stories of them leaving highly-classified phones in bars.  That's just inexcusable.

I agree with some posters here that if anything, Apple really needs to tighten the noose around the folks in China that leak the photos.  It's a tough, if not impossible, job to do considering the countless steps in the supply chain that I would not even begin to visualize.

 

If anyone can do it, Tim Cook can.  Every tech company out there would love to have Tim Cook's expertise in this area.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by iVlad View Post

Apple really needs to tighten security in China, not in its headquarters and labs.


Easy to say. Impossible to do. Do you tell Foxconn that another leak from their factory and you'll go to someone else for manufacturing? Two problems - first, you have to prove the leak is from a Foxconn employee. Second, who do you turn to as an alternative manufacturer? Get real. It may be possible to improve but impossible to prevent.

post #39 of 62
And exactly how do we know that Apple's security is tighter? Hmmm....
post #40 of 62

It is a bit harder to prevent leaks now, with everyone carrying phones with cameras.

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