Veriato Blog

Apple Employee Steals Thousands of Confidential Files Related to Self-Driving Car Tech

by Veriato | Feb 01, 2019

No greater tech is at the forefront of cutting-edge technology than the self-driving car. With applications in the delivery, transportation, and consumer spaces, companies today are racing to ensure they have a place in this unfolding market of autonomous driving.

There are plenty of rumors going around about Apple’s plans for their autonomous driving technology -  including over 5000 employees dedicated to the effort. It’s definitely an important venture for Apple; so much so, that they don’t want any of the data involved in the project falling into competitor hands.

But that’s exactly what Apple faced, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed this week. The FBI arrested Jizhong Chen, a Chinese national working for Apple. His mistake was being seen taking pictures in a “sensitive workspace” – his actions were reported to Apple Global Security.

Chen allowed Apple Global Security to search his personal computer, where they found every companies insider threat nightmare:  Chen had compiled thousands of files containing Apple intellectual property, manuals, schematics, and diagrams, as well as over one hundred photographs taken.

Contractors bring with them a certain degree of risk; they aren’t necessarily loyal to your organization and may have their loyalties place on themselves or another employer. If you’re utilizing contractors, you should be employing additional levels of security that include Employee Monitoring Software to provide your security team visibility into contractor actions.  Applying this to Apple’s case, Chen’s actions of simply copying files would have triggered Apple Global Security the moment it happened. There’s no telling if Chen had already sent the files off to a competitor. But one thing is for sure, the insider with access is always a risk.


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