Apple product security team briefing shows 99% drop in stolen iPhone cases from 2014 to 20...

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A new report sheds some light on Apple's anti-leak department, with employees for the Global Security Team coming from the NSA, FBI, Secret Service, and U.S. military supervising an operation that deals with more people per day in the production lines in China than the TSA does in airports.




The report, published by The Outline on Tuesday, gives a recount of an Apple briefing held by Apple's product security team, and given to employees. It reportedly leads with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook's remarks about "doubling down" on security, with other employees talking about personal impacts after they hear about product leaks.

"This has become a big deal for Tim," Apple's vice president of iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak said in the video. "Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can't tolerate this any longer."
The report about Apple's anti-leak efforts was made possible by the same kind of leaks that the department is supposed to prevent.
Employees in the group named are David Rice and Lee Freedman. Rice was a cryptologist for the U.S. Navy, and then spent time with the NSA. Freedman was not only a assistant U.S. attorney in Brooklyn, but also worked as the chief of computer hacking crimes at the U.S. attorney's office.

Dealing with the supply chain

"[The TSA's] peak volume is 1.8 million a day. Ours, for just 40 factories in China, is 2.7 million a day," says Rice. "In aggregate, we do about 221 million transits a year. For comparison, 223 million is the top level volume for the top 25 theme parks in the world."

Rice describes the fight with leaks in China from the supply chain as "trench warfare non-stop." The security manager noted that bus stops outside the plant have solicitations for factory workers, offering "top dollar" for Apple components destined for unreleased products.

"There's a whole slew of folks that can be tempted because what happens if I offer you, say, three months' salary?'," added Rice. "In some cases we've seen up to a year's worth of salary being rewarded for stealing product out of the factory."

Keeping a lid on it

Rice notes that the iPhone 5c in 2013 saw particularly bad leaks. Apple purchased 19,000 enclosures off the Huaqiangbei market before the announcement of the phone. Apple then purchased 11,000 more between the announcement, and the shipment of the product.

"In 2014 we had 387 enclosures stolen. In 2015 we had 57 enclosures stolen, 50 of which were stolen on the night of announce, which was so painful." added Rice, noting that in 2016, Rice says the company produced 65 million enclosures, with only four stolen. "So it's about a one in 16 million loss ratio, which is unheard of in the industry."

Damage control

After a product is leaked, Freedman leads the investigations. Detailed in the presentation were two employees at Apple headquarters, both providing information to bloggers.

"We oftentimes get people who are really excited about our products and they end up finding something to share and they will go out and say, Hey, guess what we did,'" said Freedman. "Or somebody will ask them a question and instead of just saying, I can't talk about it,' they will say too much."

An employee question and answer session talked about what employees were free to discuss in an insecure fashion, as well as Apple's "red zones" areas in the headquarters where employees shouldn't discuss what they're working on.

"Our role at NPS was created because someone spent three weeks not telling us a prototype was in a bar somewhere," Rice said, talking about the iPhone 4 prototype that ended up in Gizmodo's hands. "The crime was in the coverup."

Cook's point of view

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that any leak could potentially hurt Apple's bottom line, no matter how small the product. In 2012, Cook spoke to Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, and emphasized that the company was going to take product security and secrecy very seriously.

"We're going to double down on secrecy," Cook said. "I'm very serious about this. Double down."

More recently, in May, Cook claimed that iPhone sales problems could be traced to more rapid leaks posted not just on Apple specialty sites, but on mainstream media.

Cook noted that "earlier and much more frequent reports about future iPhones" are having an impact on iPhone sales, Cook said in response to an analyst question during the quarterly earnings conference call. He did not elaborate on his statement.

It is unclear how accurate Cook's statement about "iPhone 8" rumors impacting sales are. At worst, it seems that deferred purchases for a new model impact the present, but amplify the future for a net-zero effect.

Who watches the watchers?

During the meeting, the investigative team said that the company doesn't have a "Big Brother" culture. It doesn't read employee emails, or stalk employees to see who they talk to. However, the presentation does discuss employees "blowing cover," building a personal "relationship monitor" to regulate conversations, and where employees should draw boundaries in their personal lives -- all concepts very similar to briefings that AppleInsider employees have seen during prior military service.

The report by The Outline was gleaned from an internal briefing that was recorded by persons unknown. In essence, the report about Apple's anti-leak efforts was made possible by the same kind of leaks that the department is supposed to prevent.
lostkiwi

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    lkrupp
  • Reply 2 of 18
    Apple corporate leaking like Trump's White House.
  • Reply 3 of 18
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    I expect that the deep pockets at Apple Insider are the prime movers behind the scenes. If I turn up dead in a dumpster tomorrow, be suspicious (the arms-deal-gone-wrong was months ago, so that probably won't be the motive).
    Solianton zuykovSpamSandwich
  • Reply 4 of 18
    lkrupplkrupp Posts: 6,514member
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    Didn’t Gizmodo pay $5000.00 for that lost iPhone 4?
  • Reply 5 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,396member
  • Reply 6 of 18
    themacmanthemacman Posts: 151member
    I wonder who leaked this story :wink: 
    asdasdanton zuykovlostkiwijony0
  • Reply 7 of 18
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,136member
    It is insane that this story leaked. I mean the entire text of the presentation leaked. Some of the slides seem to have leaked.

    Either somebody went to a meeting where they were getting the low down on what nastiness happens to people who leak,  and recorded the whole thing ( there is no way this is memory) and stole some slides, which is someone with the balls of an elephant, or it was internal to the security team itself. 

    Either way how did the security team mess this up? Was the guy holding up his iPhone and asking them to speak a but louder not that obvious?

    Of all the internal meetings that leaked, this one? 
    edited June 2017 ksecStrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 18
    asdasdasdasd Posts: 5,136member

    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    In this case you have to imagine The Outline paid for it. 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 9 of 18
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 3,689administrator
    lkrupp said:
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    Didn’t Gizmodo pay $5000.00 for that lost iPhone 4?
    They did.
    stantheman
  • Reply 10 of 18
    How about it being an intentional leak by the anti-leak team?
  • Reply 11 of 18
    2old4fun2old4fun Posts: 204member
    "It is unclear how accurate Cook's statement about "iPhone 8" rumors impacting sales are. At worst, it seems that deferred purchases for a new model impact the present, but amplify the future for a net-zero effect." If sales slow more than forecast, that effects parts orders and stock levels. Then the higher than forecast sales of the new product effects parts orders and availability. Forecasting is hard enough without outside forces stirring the pot.
    Solilolliver
  • Reply 12 of 18
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,188moderator
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    I expect that the deep pockets at Apple Insider are the prime movers behind the scenes. If I turn up dead in a dumpster tomorrow, be suspicious (the arms-deal-gone-wrong was months ago, so that probably won't be the motive).
    The enclosures also benefit 3rd party case manufacturers:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/11/10/14/case_makers_gambled_and_lost_on_teardrop_iphone_5_design

    "While consumers spent over $436 million on smartphone cases in the 12 months ending in August, being first to market presents a lucrative advantage. When competitors are waiting to get their hands on a new model, companies like Hard Candy that have used leaked specs, can begin selling cases within a week. By leveraging this advantage, Hickman expects his revenues to surpass $50 million by 2013.

    The "first to market" strategy isn't paramount for all case makers, however, as investing in unofficial specs can lead to millions of dollars of worthless inventory. 

    Incase CEO Steve Gatto commented, "it's much more important to get it right than to get it there first.""

    If they get genuine parts, they get the advantage of being early to market and avoid bad inventory, which they'd have if they'd based it off a design that didn't make it to manufacturing.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 13 of 18
    Marvin said:
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    I expect that the deep pockets at Apple Insider are the prime movers behind the scenes. If I turn up dead in a dumpster tomorrow, be suspicious (the arms-deal-gone-wrong was months ago, so that probably won't be the motive).
    The enclosures also benefit 3rd party case manufacturers:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/11/10/14/case_makers_gambled_and_lost_on_teardrop_iphone_5_design

    "While consumers spent over $436 million on smartphone cases in the 12 months ending in August, being first to market presents a lucrative advantage. When competitors are waiting to get their hands on a new model, companies like Hard Candy that have used leaked specs, can begin selling cases within a week. By leveraging this advantage, Hickman expects his revenues to surpass $50 million by 2013.

    The "first to market" strategy isn't paramount for all case makers, however, as investing in unofficial specs can lead to millions of dollars of worthless inventory. 

    Incase CEO Steve Gatto commented, "it's much more important to get it right than to get it there first.""

    If they get genuine parts, they get the advantage of being early to market and avoid bad inventory, which they'd have if they'd based it off a design that didn't make it to manufacturing.

    Still, Apple is creating an artificial scarcity by not sharing designs with companies it does business with; in turn, that limits customer choice.  A perfect example of this was the lack of a headphone jack and manufacturing delays for AirPods.    That was a stategic failure in Apple's execution and also supplychain.

    Still, if the issue is accessories like cases, then we should just consider the Made-For-iPhone program a complete failure and dead on arrival because Apple provided "no choice at all" when it came to listening to music.  Generally, customers often enjoy having a choice for a color or style of an accessory such as a case; to tell phones apart in the household. 


    Creating "millions of dollars" of  un-used inventory may sound like a very foreign concept.  However, it's worth reminding our-selves that this *is* china, where it's citizens (and banks) financed the commission and building of entire cities and towns which remain vacant today.  China has excess manufacturing capability which the State of California takes advantage of-  California charge a CRV tax on Coke and Pepsi plastic bottles.

    To compare, the US has a problem where even some states have outlawed the opening of new landfills.  Take for example California-- their logic behind this started when California's legislatures realized they couldn't collect as much in real estate taxes on landfills, supplemented by a series of ads featuring an Indian crying and white people tossing things out of a car.  With public support, California passed several laws which severely restricted the opening of new landfills.  However, this never stopped the creation of waste.  So in California, the two-liter bottles are collected.  Once at a "recycling center", the 2-liter containers are actually shipped to China via boat.   When the soda is purchased, Citizens of California pay a 20¢ per 2-liter tax to ship the plastic to China for recycling.  Once in China, the factories in China can recycle the plastic bottles to make fancy fabrics, clothing and other tacky fleamarket tchotchkes and souvenirs.   It's an incredibly interesting process to watch- huge football-field sized shipping boats leaving the ports of Los Angeles and San Francisco filled with California's plastic bottles and other assorted trash, only to return to the US filled with 45-inch 4K TVs, iphone cases, and other things which fill up a Fry's Electronics store.  :smiley: 
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 14 of 18
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 2,888member
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    Definitely not Apple's competitors. Competitors already have people in the factories and no doubt Apple has people in theirs.
  • Reply 15 of 18
    sphericspheric Posts: 1,670member
    Marvin said:
    If cash money is being offered for corporate espionage, where is that money trail lead back to? I would welcome an exposé on the money trail. Who is ultimately paying for this information? Is it Apple's competitors? The rumor mill sites hungry for an exclusive?
    I expect that the deep pockets at Apple Insider are the prime movers behind the scenes. If I turn up dead in a dumpster tomorrow, be suspicious (the arms-deal-gone-wrong was months ago, so that probably won't be the motive).
    The enclosures also benefit 3rd party case manufacturers:

    http://appleinsider.com/articles/11/10/14/case_makers_gambled_and_lost_on_teardrop_iphone_5_design

    "While consumers spent over $436 million on smartphone cases in the 12 months ending in August, being first to market presents a lucrative advantage. When competitors are waiting to get their hands on a new model, companies like Hard Candy that have used leaked specs, can begin selling cases within a week. By leveraging this advantage, Hickman expects his revenues to surpass $50 million by 2013.

    The "first to market" strategy isn't paramount for all case makers, however, as investing in unofficial specs can lead to millions of dollars of worthless inventory. 

    Incase CEO Steve Gatto commented, "it's much more important to get it right than to get it there first.""

    If they get genuine parts, they get the advantage of being early to market and avoid bad inventory, which they'd have if they'd based it off a design that didn't make it to manufacturing.

    Still, Apple is creating an artificial scarcity by not sharing designs with companies it does business with; in turn, that limits customer choice.  A perfect example of this was the lack of a headphone jack and manufacturing delays for AirPods.    That was a stategic failure in Apple's execution and also supplychain.
    I don't understand how those things "limited customer choice", rather than just delaying purchase. It isn't as if Apple didn't include a minijack adapter in the box...
  • Reply 16 of 18
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,207member
    asdasd said:
    It is insane that this story leaked. I mean the entire text of the presentation leaked. Some of the slides seem to have leaked.

    Either somebody went to a meeting where they were getting the low down on what nastiness happens to people who leak,  and recorded the whole thing ( there is no way this is memory) and stole some slides, which is someone with the balls of an elephant, or it was internal to the security team itself. 

    Either way how did the security team mess this up? Was the guy holding up his iPhone and asking them to speak a but louder not that obvious?

    Of all the internal meetings that leaked, this one? 
    I can say with almost metaphysical certainly that a person in their 20s or 30s recorded and leaked this. Young people are so habituated to doing this kind of thing these days they post and leak sensitive information without regard for damages whatsoever.

    Also, it's clear Tim needs to get real and start firing people. Being the nice CEO instead of the one who terrifies employees into doing their best work has led to people think they can exploit or take advantage of thei position without serious legal and criminal consequences.
    edited June 2017
  • Reply 17 of 18
    SoliSoli Posts: 8,396member
    Why would anyone steal an iPhone case?
    1) To sell to a knockoff company to use as an exact template for an upcoming iPhone.
    2) To sell to some tech "news" site.
    3) Because they can.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    chrishedlundchrishedlund Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Why would anyone steal an iPhone case?
    gatorguy
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