Maximum irony: Apple's secret battle with leakers gets leaked

An Apple internal briefing titled 'Stopping Leakers – Keeping Confidential at Apple' has leaked, revealing the company's efforts to stop employees and others in the know from revealing the company's secrets to the public. The briefing was leaked in the form of a recording, according to the company that acquired it, and it is an hour in length. The recording details the means by which Apple attempts to stop leaks before they happen, as well as how it tries to root out leakers who give company information away to competitors and press.

The information comes from The Outline, which reports that it obtained a copy of this internal brief on leakers. According to the publication, Apple goes so far as to employ former NSA, FBI, USSS, and US military personnel to investigate leaks; these investigators are said to be located around the world. Furthermore, the briefing reveals that company CEO Tim Cook considers secrecy of prime importance. Talking about that latter point was reportedly Apple VP of iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing Greg Joswiak, who said:

This has become a big deal for Tim [Cook]. Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can't tolerate this any longer ... 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.

What better way to deal with leaks? Figure out who the leakers are and eliminate them.

To do this, the briefing reportedly reveals that Apple has become 'quite effective' at this mission, having developed its own infrastructure 'to come after these leakers.' Due to Apple's work in stopping leaks from the supply chain, the briefing notes that most of the leaks are now coming from Apple's own campuses, with last year being the first time that Apple's own California locations leaked more info than the factories used by the company overseas.

Methods to prevent supply chain leaks include checking workers whenever they come into and exit any of the factories, something that amounts to hundreds of millions of instances a year. Sometimes, though, the workers are successful in their mission, with the biggest goal being smuggling enclosures out of factories. The briefing reveals that Apple once had to purchase back 19,000 of its iPhone 5C enclosures prior to the phone's announcement, followed by another 11,000.

If/when a leak does occur from within an Apple campus, the company mobilizes its own internal teams to figure out who leaked the information. These probes can last a long while, per the briefing, such as in one case where the leaker wasn't discovered for three years. Though in some cases a leak happens after an employee's view of the company sours, such as following a bad performance review, Apple's says that's not usually the cause.

Apple workers are required to keep their 'mouths shut' about things they work on when talking to their families and friends, and to even avoid talking about certain things in Apple campus 'red zones' such as hallways where they can be overheard. Though the company aims to avoid creating a 'Big Brother' culture of fear, workers are said to at times be nervous enough about accidentally spilling the beans that they will even shut down their personal Twitter accounts.

Apple plays casual in the briefing, saying that employees can talk about some internal work things including how 'crappy [their] boss is' and how much they get paid. Any talk of unannounced products, though, is a quick way to run afoul of Apple's rules, as is talking about unannounced product availability and services.

What happens if a worker accidentally talks about an Apple secret? The best solution is to own up to it immediately, in which case the odds of getting in trouble are very low.

SOURCE: The Outline