Apple is apparently doubling down on its efforts to track and prevent leaks, as the company reportedly held an employee briefing titled “Stopping Leakers – Keeping Confidential at Apple” earlier this month. Ironically, a recording of the briefing was obtained by The Outline, who leaked it on Tuesday.
The leaked recording contains a plethora of information, including info on Apple’s Global Security Team — a division at Cupertino, unknown in size, tasked with preventing information from reaching “competitors, counterfeiters, and the press.” The Global Security Team is reportedly staffed by former members of the U.S. intelligence community, including the NSA, as well as the U.S. military and law enforcement. A subdivision of the group, “New Product Security,” is specifically called a “secrecy group,” whose sole job is to track down sources of leaks, stop them and relay pertinent information back to Cupertino.
Throughout the confidential briefing, a group of Apple’s security and communications experts expanded on why new Apple products should remain secret before they’re officially unveiled. One of those experts, Manager Jenny Hubbert, showed a short video of CEO Tim Cook announcing a product. After the video’s conclusion, she emphasized the importance of “Surprise and delight. Surprise and delight when we announce a new product to the world that hasn’t leaked. It’s incredibly impactful, in a really positive way. It’s our DNA. It’s our brand. But when leaks get out, that’s even more impactful. It’s a direct hit to all of us.”
During his stint as CEO, Steve Jobs ran an extremely tight ship when it came to leaks — and that legacy of secrecy is reportedly being continued by Cook. Apple has stamped down leaks out of the supply chain so well, in fact, that more information is coming out of Cupertino itself than from its factories abroad, The Outline reported. “This has become a big deal for Tim,” Apple VP Greg Joswiak said. “Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can’t tolerate this any longer.”
While Security Director Greg Rice ensured employees that there is no “Big Brother culture” at Apple, he encouraged attendees to be vigilant about exposing work-related information to friends, families and other employees. On that last point, Apple workers are also expected to be discrete in their own offices, and some areas of the California headquarters, like the lobby and hallways, are “red zones” — areas that “aren’t places to talk.” According to The Outline, this fear of “breaking secrecy” is one reason why new hires at Apple subsequently delete their Twitter accounts.
“I have faith deep in my soul that if we hire smart people, they’re gonna think about this,” Joswiak later added. “They’re gonna understand this, and ultimately, they’re gonna do the right thing, and that’s to keep their mouth shut.”
Looking from the outside in, it’s easy to see why Apple is clamping down on its secrecy culture. The amount of leaks concerning new Apple products has only increased in recent years, and while not all rumors and predictions can be directly traced back to Apple, a good portion of them can be. Take, for example, how information about the HomePod spread before its existence was even a certainty. Of course, the upcoming iPhone 8 flagship — of which we probably know quite a bit about at this point — is undoubtedly another reason why Cupertino seems to be doubling-down on its secrecy. Apple is no stranger to punishing leakers, and it’s probably safe to say that we’ll see even more efforts to stamp down leaks going forward.