In 2016, Apple caught two leakers at its California campuses, including one who was the subject of a three-year investigation, according to statements made during an internal security briefing earlier this month.
One of the leakers worked in Apple’s online store “for a couple years,” Lee Freedman, Director of Worldwide Investigations, said in the briefing, a recording of which was obtained by The Outline. The other leaker worked on iTunes for “about six years,” he said.
Both of these leakers were supplying information to “bloggers,” Freedman said. The online store worker started talking to a blogger over Twitter direct messages, and the relationship evolved over time. “At first it was really innocent,” Freedman said, “and it moved to not-so-innocent discussions.”
The iTunes worker had a preexisting relationship with a blogger, Freedman said. “Totally legitimate friendship before they started at Apple,” he said, but instead of “limiting that friendship” this employee started sharing “pretty early on.”
“For the employee, maybe it feels like an accident. For the blogger, it feels like they are working a relationship,” Freedman said. “People will pose as your friends, people will make you feel really good. You know, a blogger, the way they get clicks on the internet is by getting inside information about Apple.”
Historically, Apple leaks came out of its factories in China. Those leaks slowed to a trickle, however, as Apple shored up its secrecy teams, and the U.S. is now considered the bigger vulnerability.
“This has become a big deal for Tim,” Greg Joswiak, Apple’s Vice President of iPod, iPhone and iOS product marketing, said in a video about leaks shown to U.S. employees in the briefing. “Matter of fact, it should be important to literally everybody at Apple that we can't tolerate this any longer. That if you are leaking, you don’t belong here. That if you are leaking, you are hurting the company. If you are leaking, you are hurting everybody around you.”
Later, Joswiak added that “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.”