Apple has tightened security practices in the US since the death of Steve Jobs, but has no control over the Chinese factories where workers don't have the same level of loyalty to Apple, according to a report.
An anonymous Apple employee told Ars Technica: "You've got thousands of people working on manufacturing something who have no vested interest in keeping it secret. It will be increasingly hard to hide the industrial design we do because we manufacture things overseas. Since we don't do it in the US, it's may be hard to surprise people over anything in the future."
While unreleased product information is leaking out of China on an almost weekly basis, security at Apple's HQ in Cupertino has been ramped up, according to a number of anonymous sources at Apple who spoke to Ars Technica.
There are a number of reasons why this is proving problematic.
"Apple's security practices are targeted at making sure US employees don't leak stuff, but everything comes out of China now. I think Apple's secrecy mode is really outdated," said one employee.
Another employee noted that only a handful of people are allowed to take new devices off campus for real life testing. He suggested: "That's really disturbing for something you're about to ship millions of." The employee claimed these restrictions mean they can't "test things to the level we want to test them before they ship."
Of course one reason why these particular security measures are in place is to stop incidents like the iPhone 4 prototype that was lost in a bar a couple of years ago. But "all these [US based] security measures are really only going to prevent accidents. If people want to leak stuff, they'll find a way," noted one employee.
Apple used to ship new operating system updates to its stores a week before the public release, but according to an anonymous employee the Apple Store staff now have as little as 12 hours to get familiar with the new system that they are required to support.
We believe that there have been some managed leaks from Apple over the past few months. We are confident that some leaks, such as news that the iPad mini would not launch at the same time as the iPhone 5, came straight from Apple HQ. These leaks tend to be about Apple events rather than new product parts, however. We suspect there is a certain amount of shareholder expectation management going on here.