Respond quickly: in your opinion, leaks of Apple products are more or less frequent / revealing for a few years now?
Well, regardless of the answer, the The Information brought a new report showing that this theme definitely does not go unnoticed at Apple: the company is setting up a true ever greater security operation to prevent prototypes, models, structural designs and concepts from escaping its Chinese suppliers.
The team responsible for this inspection, known as New Product Security Team (NPS), is made up of people of all kinds, from Chinese intelligence professionals (or fluent in Mandarin) to ex-US military personnel. Since its founding, the team has defeated attempts at theft of all types and natures – from small thefts (with prototypes hidden in shoes and bras) to cinematic plans.
In one case, NPS discovered a group of factory workers literally digging a hole in a wall hidden by a large piece of machinery, in the style of “A Dream of Freedom”. The operation, of course, was properly canceled in time.
The NPS initiative has not existed forever: it started six years ago, when an employee of the Jabil, Apple’s partner, stole thousands of carcasses from the iPhone 5c and revealed the existence (and look) of the device to the world before its announcement – certainly, taking a fair amount of money in the process.
According to the report, however, the team is no longer the same as before: at its peak, around 30 people worked in the operation directly hired by Apple, but today Apple prefers to outsource part of the process – which may or may not explain a feeling more frequent leaks of the company’s products from one or two years ago.
Still, the formation of the NPS brought about the establishment of several protocols in Apple’s Chinese partners to prevent the leakage of prototypes and carcasses. For example: parts must be stored in opaque boxes, classified with security labels; garbage, in turn, must be disposed of in transparent bags and must pass through a metal detector before being disposed of. Each tiny bit of inventory has its own serial number, and audits are performed daily.
More recently, Apple has also become concerned about leaking digital files, such as CAD drawings of devices. To contain this type of theft, Apple requires computers that handle these files to run on separate networks from the rest of the factory, full of firewalls, in closed rooms. The files have individual watermarks for each employee dealing with them, and it is prohibited to use third-party services, such as Google Enterprise or Dropbox, for communication.
Suppliers that are sources of leaks are subject to millionaire fines from Apple. Jabil, for example, is expected to pay Apple about $ 25 million if any confidential parts or information leave its premises. The Foxconn it is exempt from this type of payment, due to its strong relations with the Cupertino giant.