Apple products are often leaked because they’re immensely popular, the company is protective of its plans, and people are willing to pay for just about any information on a new product. A new must-read report from Motherboard shows that not everyone selling Apple leaks is on the up-and-up, and not because of the information they’re peddling. Some leakers are working for Apple.
Motherboard’s Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai spoke to a double agent named Andrey Shumeyko, an Apple leaker who began offering information to the company in 2017. By the time 2020 rolled around and iOS 14 leaked, Shumeyko was actively trying to become Apple’s mole, tracking leaked hardware and software and sharing it with Apple’s Global Security team in the hopes of getting paid, and to “redeem himself for being part of that community.” There’s a reason why he spoke to Motherboard in the first place, though. Apple never paid and “never took into consideration my side and me as a person,” Shumeyko tells Motherboard.
What’s interesting about Shumeyko’s story isn’t the fact that there are moles working within the communities selling Apple’s biggest secrets, it’s that Apple managed to keep Shumeyko sharing information for almost a year. Hacking and ferreting out leaks can sometimes involve social engineering, manipulating people rather than the technical tools they use. It’s just unusual to see such a clear version of it working the other way, and not with a ton of complexity. In private messages, Apple appealed to Shumeyko’s interest in the company and his sense of guilt — and it worked, until it didn’t. Here’s what he says one Apple employee told him:
Please understand that our goal is to protect Apple. All our actions are guided by the premise of what is best for the company, our employees, and our customers (of which you are one). Therefore your help—and insights—in understanding possible threats to us are very important...Do the right things to protect Apple. Keep it that way, you will be proud of yourself, so will we.
You should read Motherboard’s full piece to learn about all the leaks Shumeyko was involved in, and the not-so-subtle ways Apple tried to manipulate him. For all the information that still made it out, Apple remains an intimidating company to mess with.