That massive Apple iPhone 8 and iOS 11 code leak was probably an inside job

Tim CookStephen Lam/StringerApple CEO Tim Cook.

The biggest leak to hit Apple in years was almost certainly an inside job.

Just days ahead of Apple’s September 12 launch event for the new iPhone 8, 9to5Mac and MacRumors got hold of leaked iOS 11 software which confirmed the new device would be called the iPhone X.

The two publications saw the Golden Master (GM) version of Apple’s upcoming mobile operating system, which confirmed the iPhone X name plus many other details. The GM is essentially a finalised build that goes live internally before public rollout.

According to a BBC report, someone sent both publications URLs which downloaded the software directly from Apple’s own servers, indicating an internal leak. And well-known Apple blogger John Gruber also stated with “nearly 100 per cent certainty” in a blogpost that an Apple employee was responsible.

Gruber wrote: “Someone within Apple leaked the list of URLs to 9to5Mac and MacRumors.”

It is not clear whether one or more people are involved with this latest leak but, according to Gruber, it’s likely that Apple will do its own detective work.

“I think there’s a good chance Apple is going to figure out who it was,” he wrote. “That person should be ashamed of themselves, and should be very worried when their phone next rings.”

CCS Insight analyst Ben Wood also suggested Apple would try and track down the culprit — though it’s unlikely the leaks will affect sales or interest in the new phones.

“There will be an unbelievable effort within Apple to determine how this happened and I don’t envy the person that did it because there will be no forgiveness for it,” he told the BBC. “[…] but for Apple there is such insatiable demand for even the smallest details […] that even a very detailed leak will do little to dampen the enthusiasm.”

Apple is notorious for its secrecy and the effort it makes to keep everything under wraps before its launch events. But 2017 marks the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, with intense media, analyst, and supplier interest in how Apple will mark the occasion. Apple itself may have leaked some details about the iPhone X earlier this year, like the design, in the firmware for its new HomePod speakers.

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