Apple's Focus on Product Secrecy Thwarted by its Massive Supply Chain

apple security iconIt's no surprise that the vast majority of Apple product leaks come from the company's massive supply chain, but Ars Technica takes a closer look at how secrecy at the company has evolved under Tim Cook in the areas where the company can exert its greatest control. The report suggests that security has indeed been tightened somewhat, in line with Cook's claims that the company has been working to "double down on secrecy", but the supply chain involving hundreds of partner companies and hundreds of thousands of workers remains a difficult channel to secure.

According to a handful of Apple employees who spoke to us on condition of anonymity, the leaks are simply a byproduct of globalization.

The employees all told us that security at Apple remains as strict—if not slightly stricter—as ever. (Several engineers said that general security practices appear to be tighter now, a year after CEO Tim Cook took over, but "tighter" is a difficult metric to gauge at a place like Apple.) [...]

"Apple's security practices are targeted at making sure US employees don't leak stuff, but everything comes out of China now," one employee told Ars. "I think Apple's secrecy mode is really outdated."

The report details a number of examples of tightened security for Apple's own employees, including reductions in off-campus testing of prototype devices and retail store changes such as reductions in the amount of advance access store employees have to OS X and iOS system updates.

Still, Apple's supply chain obviously represents the weakest link in the chain of product secrecy, with an assortment of vendors producing parts months ahead of a product's public launch and numerous opportunities for security to be broken along the way. Ars Technica notes that product security is an ingrained part of the culture at Apple, with employees honoring that secrecy out of respect for their coworkers' efforts.

But that sense of loyalty is largely lacking in the supply chain where companies churn out millions of parts on a contract basis with relatively little investment of loyalty. Apple naturally keeps a close eye on its supply chain and its partners are undoubtedly concerned about losing Apple's business should excessive leaks be found, but it seems to be nearly impossible for Apple and its partners to keep everything under wraps.

Top Rated Comments

saving107 Avatar
150 months ago
It would be nice to have a little more surprise in apple keynotes. Just doesn't happen like it used to.

You want to be surprised, stop following rumor sites.
Score: 66 Votes (Like | Disagree)
xgman Avatar
150 months ago
How about doubling down on quality control?
Score: 59 Votes (Like | Disagree)
OrangeSVTguy Avatar
150 months ago
Build them all here in the USA in one giant factory.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheEndless Avatar
150 months ago
I love how Apple employees are speaking "on the condition of anonymity" about internal policies regarding secrecy. Ironic much?
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
saving107 Avatar
150 months ago
This leakage didn't happen with such intensity a year ago when Steve was still around.
Yup, nothing ever leaked while Steve Jobs was CEO :rolleyes:










Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Thunderhawks Avatar
150 months ago
Three can keep a secret, if two of them are dead.
Benjamin Franklin
Score: 20 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Apple Announces 'Let Loose' Event on May 7 Amid Rumors of New iPads

Tuesday April 23, 2024 7:11 am PDT by
Apple has announced it will be holding a special event on Tuesday, May 7 at 7 a.m. Pacific Time (10 a.m. Eastern Time), with a live stream to be available on Apple.com and on YouTube as usual. The event invitation has a tagline of "Let Loose" and shows an artistic render of an Apple Pencil, suggesting that iPads will be a focus of the event. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
Apple Vision Pro Dual Loop Band Orange Feature 2

Apple Cuts Vision Pro Shipments as Demand Falls 'Sharply Beyond Expectations'

Tuesday April 23, 2024 9:44 am PDT by
Apple has dropped the number of Vision Pro units that it plans to ship in 2024, going from an expected 700 to 800k units to just 400k to 450k units, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Orders have been scaled back before the Vision Pro has launched in markets outside of the United States, which Kuo says is a sign that demand in the U.S. has "fallen sharply beyond expectations." As a...
iPad And Calculator App Feature

Apple Finally Plans to Release a Calculator App for iPad Later This Year

Tuesday April 23, 2024 9:08 am PDT by
Apple is finally planning a Calculator app for the iPad, over 14 years after launching the device, according to a source familiar with the matter. iPadOS 18 will include a built-in Calculator app for all iPad models that are compatible with the software update, which is expected to be unveiled during the opening keynote of Apple's annual developers conference WWDC on June 10. AppleInsider...
iOS 17 All New Features Thumb

iOS 17.5 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Sunday April 21, 2024 3:00 am PDT by
The upcoming iOS 17.5 update for the iPhone includes only a few new user-facing features, but hidden code changes reveal some additional possibilities. Below, we have recapped everything new in the iOS 17.5 and iPadOS 17.5 beta so far. Web Distribution Starting with the second beta of iOS 17.5, eligible developers are able to distribute their iOS apps to iPhone users located in the EU...
Apple Silicon AI Optimized Feature Siri

Apple Releases Open Source AI Models That Run On-Device

Wednesday April 24, 2024 3:39 pm PDT by
Apple today released several open source large language models (LLMs) that are designed to run on-device rather than through cloud servers. Called OpenELM (Open-source Efficient Language Models), the LLMs are available on the Hugging Face Hub, a community for sharing AI code. As outlined in a white paper [PDF], there are eight total OpenELM models, four of which were pre-trained using the...
iPhone 15 Pro FineWoven

Apple Reportedly Stops Production of FineWoven Accessories

Sunday April 21, 2024 6:03 am PDT by
Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories, according to the Apple leaker and prototype collector known as "Kosutami." In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Kosutami explained that Apple has stopped production of FineWoven accessories due to its poor durability. The company may move to another non-leather material for its premium accessories in the future. Kosutami has revealed...