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The Information's Wayne Ma has published an interesting story about the measures Apple takes to prevent leaks of unreleased products like iPhones from emerging out of factories within its Asian supply chain.

shawshank-redemption-tunnel.jpg

After photos of the colorful iPhone 5c leaked in 2013, the report claims Apple created a "New Product Security" team to monitor security at its most sensitive suppliers in China. At one point, the team reportedly topped more than 30 people, but Apple is said to have been moving some of the work to contractors as of late.

Apple recruited former U.S. military and intelligence operatives fluent in Chinese to be security managers on the team, and hired third-party auditors tasked with visiting factories on a weekly basis, the report adds.

The security team is said to have uncovered workers going to extreme lengths to smuggle valuable components out of factories over the years, with some attempting to hide parts in crawl spaces, tissue boxes, shoes, belt buckles, bras, used mop water, under discarded metal shavings, and beyond.

Apple once even caught factory workers "digging a small tunnel in a corner of a room behind a large piece of machinery," hoping to use it to funnel stolen components to the outside, according to the report. "People were chipping away little by little at the wall 'Shawshank Redemption' style," one person said.

Over the years, Apple has tightened its security protocols even further to prevent leaks.

Examples from the report: trash bags must be clear and screened for metal before they are removed from the premises, storage containers must be sealed with tamper-evident stickers, parts must have unique serial numbers that can be traced back to specific factory lines, and inventory must be counted daily.

Suppliers who suffer leaks may face multi-million-dollar fines, according to the report, although Apple's primary manufacturer Foxconn is said to be excluded from this policy due to the size of its relationship with Apple.

The full article at The Information is a fascinating read, with several more details about Apple's efforts to curb leaks. A subscription is required.

Article Link: Apple Once Caught Factory Workers 'Digging a Small Tunnel in a Corner' in Attempt to Smuggle iPhone Parts
 

meaning-matters

macrumors 6502a
Dec 13, 2013
508
2,087
We don't need no education
We don't need no thought control
No dark sarcasm in the classroom
Teachers leave them kids alone
Hey, teachers, leave them kids alone
All in all it's just another brick in the wall
All in all you're just another brick in the wall
 
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57004

Cancelled
Aug 18, 2005
1,022
339
Apple's primary manufacturer Foxconn is said to be excluded from this policy due to the size of its relationship with Apple.

In other words they refused to take this **** and stood up to Apple. Good.

When I hear the stories about Apple's Gestapo I think they've gone too far. And all just because of some stupid leaks. And if you don't like leaks - what are you doing here???
 
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Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
38,505
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Los Angeles
These sound like the methods diamond mine workers would use to try to sneak out diamonds. I guess iPhone parts can be just as valuable.
 
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Braderunner

macrumors 65816
Oct 2, 2015
1,365
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Tralfamadore
I doubt that they were trying to commit corporate espionage. They probably wanted to post pics of the parts online.
Even if done anonymously, just to know "I did that"!
 
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alpi123

macrumors 68000
Jun 18, 2014
1,540
1,754
These sound like the methods diamond mine workers would use to try to sneak out diamonds. I guess iPhone parts can be just as valuable.

If they were for a new (unreleased) iPhone, this is like a gold mine for the workers. They can sell a genuine part for so much money, even to the media.
 
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Crowbot

macrumors 6502a
May 29, 2018
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NYC
In other words they refused to take this **** and stood up to Apple. Good.

When I hear the stories about Apple's Gestapo I think they've gone too far. And all just because of some stupid leaks. And if you don't like leaks - what are you doing here???

Those "stupid leaks" could cost Apple millions. There's not much point in having a security plan that tolerates any leakage. Granted, Apple is heavy handed but they have the resources to do it.
 
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GeoStructural

macrumors 6502a
Oct 8, 2016
644
2,133
Colombia
Interesting read! Increase their pay and this wouldn't happen.

I don’t think so. These popular Apple-related sites pay a lot for leaks like this.

I believe with the years the anticipation for Apple products will reduce so much to the point where it won’t even be an issue. We are getting there.
 
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Crowbot

macrumors 6502a
May 29, 2018
535
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NYC
I doubt that they were trying to commit corporate espionage. They probably wanted to post pics of the parts online.
Even if done anonymously, just to know "I did that"!

I don't think they'd go to these lengths as well as risking their job just to day "I did that". Classic industrial espionage.
 
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Zdigital2015

macrumors 68030
Jul 14, 2015
2,819
3,465
East Coast, United States
Interesting read! Increase their pay and this wouldn't happen.

Give me a break...this would happen regardless of pay. The contract manufacturer sets the wages for workers as it is their company. I am sure that Apple has certain guidelines for treatment of workers and suggested pay, but ultimately, it is up to the manufacturer to set wages and the worker to decide if he wants to accept the job.
 
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