Technology cyber security

Apple Inc. has warned employees not to leak internal information on the basis of potential criminal charges. According to Fortune, Apple released an internal memo warning employees to stop leaking information on the company’s future plans.

Apple said they’ve caught 29 employees leaking information in 2017 and 12 of those employees had been arrested.

“These people not only lose their jobs,” Apple said, “they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere.”

Greg Joswiak, Apple’s product marketing executive, said the reason for the memo was to reduce leaks about planned software features and products.

“We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great,” Joswiak said, “and not have that done poorly by someone else.”

Apple’s monitoring of its employees is just one part of the bigger picture Silicon Valley technology companies have been painting. Companies such as Facebook and Google also keep tabs on their employees.

However, company monitoring can sometimes be a problem when it intervenes with employee rights. Google fired an employee in 2016 for sharing internal posts criticizing an executive. That same employee later filed a lawsuit against Google claiming their speech was protected under the law.

In light of corporate identity theft problems, which cost businesses up to $48 billion every year, companies may be edgier regarding employee risk management.

However, according to Chris Baker, an attorney with Baker Curtis and Schwartz, tech companies sometimes mix up the act of sharing trade secrets with conversations employees are allowed to have.

“The overall broad definition of confidential information makes it so employees don’t say anything,” said Baker. “Even about issues they’re allowed to talk about. That’s problematic.”

A more recent example of leaked internal information is an image leak of Google’s new Gmail redesign.

Up to 46% of people say a website’s design is the top reason for determining a company’s credibility. Google’s new Gmail design will include a confidential mode, Smart Reply, a choice of layouts, and other upgraded touches.

Apple’s Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook pledged to double down on keeping company secrets safe in 2012. Yet, the media has continued to provide information to the public about the company’s future plans for products and software development.

One employee was fired just last month for violating Apple’s confidentiality agreement and providing the media with information about Apple’s software roadmap.

Apple said in the company’s memo that many employees don’t intend to leak information. Members of the press may befriend employees via Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter in an attempt to get information from them.

But it’s important to note, the company said, that while members of the press may get a jumpstart in popularity, the employees who provide them with the information face real criminal consequences.

“Everyone comes to Apple to do the best work of their lives,” said Joswiak. “Work that matters and contributes to what all 135,000 people in this company are doing together. The best to honor those contributions is by not leaking.”