The Most Extreme Examples Of Secrecy At Apple

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Apple is notoriously known as one of the most secretive, tight-lipped companies in tech.

It has become infamous for its secrecy around new product announcements and launches. 

Apple accomplishes this by closely monitoring work spaces, making developers chain products to desks, and even requiring employees to cover up devices with black cloaks while working on them.

Everything is on a need-to-know basis and employees suspected of leaking information will likely be heavily investigated. 

One woman recently wrote on Quora about how Apple keeps secrets so well.

'Fear? I've been meaning to tell this story for a while,' she writes.

Kim Scheinberg was told to forget everything she knew about her husband's project to make PCs run Mac OS. Their house was even totally reconfigured to meet Apple's security standards.

Apple provided very little details regarding the health of Steve Jobs.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs battled pancreatic cancer and had a liver transplant while on a leave of absence.

Apple's representatives declined to comment for quite a while on the state of Steve Jobs' health. Obviously, this was a very sensitive topic, but also one that was relevant to Apple shareholders.

The way Apple handled the news of the health of Steve Jobs was unparalleled, The New York Times reported at the time.

In order to keep the iPad secret, Apple required developers to chain the device to their desks.

'The criteria was that we had to have a room with no windows,' an iPad developer told us back in 2011. 'They changed the locks on the door.

Three developers and I were the only people allowed to go in the room. Apple needed the names and social security numbers of the people who had access.

Apple needed to be able to drill a hole in the desk and chain the devices to desk. They used those bicycle cables.

They had these custom frames built around them so we couldn't even tell what the iPads looked like. We could plug into them so we could code to them and we could touch the screen and play with that, but we couldn't see the form factor.'

Then they took pictures of the wood grain. If any pictures leaked out, they could trace it back to which desk they came from.

I wasn't allowed to tell our CEO. I wasn't allowed to tell anybody anything about what we were doing. I couldn't even tell my wife. She was like, 'You're going to get fired if this doesn't work.'

I hadn't thought about that but she was probably right.'

Apple really ramped up security at their manufacturing site in the south China city of Longhua.

Reuters described Apple's manufacturing site as an industrial fortress back in 2010.

In order to gain access to the facility, employees need to swipe their cards, and guards had to use a fingerprint recognition scanner to confirm each employee's identity.

'They use metal detectors and search us. If you have any metal objects on you when you leave, they just call the police,' one employee told Reuters.

The Reuters reporter was allegedly attacked by two guards while attempting to check out a nearby Foxconn plant that was also making parts for Apple.

Apple uses a variety of manufacturers to better track leaks.

In order to make sure Apple is the only one who knows everything, it relies on multiple firms for supplying parts for a product, according to Reuters.

It also gives contract manufacturers different products, so that it will be clear who was responsible for any leaks, if they come up.

Teams are kept apart from each other.

'To discuss a topic at a meeting, one must be sure everyone in the room is 'disclosed' on the topic, meaning they have been made privy to certain secrets,' according to an excerpt from 'Inside Apple: How America's Most Admired--and Secretive--Company Really Works.'

''You can't talk about any secret until you're sure everyone is disclosed on it,' said an ex-employee. As a result, Apple employees and their projects are pieces of a puzzle. The snapshot of the completed puzzle is known only at the highest reaches of the organisation.'

Sometimes Apple builds entirely new physical barriers for projects.

'Apple employees know something big is afoot when the carpenters appear in their office building,' according to the book 'Inside Apple.'

'New walls are quickly erected. Doors are added and new security protocols put into place. Windows that once were transparent are now frosted. Other rooms have no windows at all. They are called lockdown rooms: No information goes in or out without a reason.'

Apple also has a pretty intense tracking system for its products.

From an anonymous Apple employee on Quora:

'All prototypes are laser marked with serial numbers and tracked by a central tracking system (called iTrack). Physical security is also highly prioritised, with prototypes required to be locked up when not in use. Access to prototypes is also restricted, and the default assumption within the company is that your coworkers do not know what you're working on.

Physical access to the areas of certain groups (product design, industrial design, and reliability) is highly restricted by badge access. The most sensitive areas, such as the Industrial Design Studio, have receptionists, external cameras to screen guests, and require an escort to vouch for you. Within these areas and groups, knowledge of the product pipeline and access to prototypes is widespread, but that knowledge doesn't leave the group.'

Speaking of secrecy, Apple is rumoured to be working on a smartwatch.

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