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Punishing Security Breaches

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the it-has-to-happen dept.

Iphone 151

Schneier has a story on his blog this morning about punishing security breaches. This one is in response to the tale of Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who left an important bit of technology in a bar recently. You might have heard of it. You also might have been on either the breacher or the corporate side. I'd hate to be in either position myself.

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Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984604)

I caught a an article on NY Times [nytimes.com] that outlines the San Mateo police's options for prosecuting Gizmodo for purchasing the leaked iPhone. From the article:

California law prohibits the sale of stolen goods and states that a person who uses someone else’s lost property without permission may be guilty of theft.

And since it's over $950, it's a felony. Even if they didn't know it was stolen, they could face a lesser charge of "misappropriation of lost property" which is a crime but not theft. Charges haven't been pressed yet but the police say they're investigating the options.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984692)

And since it's over $950, it's a felony.

$950? That's nothing. Was there any song in the IPhone?

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (5, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984940)

Yes there was! Over 9000!

And according to the RIAA, 9000 songs at 0.99$ each equals 5 billions in damages and 3000 years of prison!

Lessons unlearned... (2, Insightful)

BrokenHalo (565198) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986254)

We could pursue the DRM issue forever, but there's a completely unrelated lesson Apple could learn from this debacle if they cared to. If the offending phone was indeed left on a barstool, a question arises (in my mind at least): If Apple are so damned clever, why can't they make their phones small enough to fit in a pocket of your jeans?

Then nobody would have to leave the device out in plain view for anyone to pinch.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985198)

And since it's over $950, it's a felony.

What's the reference price, the one you buy it for to the thief, the price the original owner would need to pay to have it replaced, the price the original owner paid...?

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (4, Informative)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985504)

Which ever one that allows the DA to charge you with a felony. Unless of course you are connected, then it is which ever one that allows the DA to charge you with a misdemeanor which he'll drop under a prayer for judgment. The amount of leeway a DA has is what makes the US legal system appear to be so uncorrupted when compared to the rest of the world. But the corruption lies within the system, at the level of discretion the DA and judges have.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985858)

Since it's a development unit, it would be interesting to see Gizmodo pay for the R&D costs of the next iPhone.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986128)

$10?

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (5, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984728)

Beat me to it.

[Gizmondo] "didn't know this was stolen when we bought it."

Riiiight. The difference between "found" and "stolen" is entirely in the mind of the... "finder". Heck, you can "find" a bike in the street... if you jump on it quick enough. Hang around gas stations, and you may "find" a car with the keys still in the ignition.

Go into Gizmondo's office late at night - "find" an open window - and wow, look at all the gear just ripe for "finding". After all if it's not grasped tightly in someone's hand at that very moment, it doesn't belong to anyone, right?

They paid $5000 for something that they knew - by their own admission - did not belong to the seller. If that's not dealing in stolen goods, then I don't know what is. You don't even have to know the law to be sure - a child could tell you that it's unethical and wrong.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (4, Insightful)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984836)

The question is: will they simply pay a fine, or will someone actually get to face a criminal charge? All too often (in the US) people get off free because the offense is blamed on the Corporation® and not the individual acting on behalf of the corporation. If this is knowingly purchasing stolen goods, then it should be treated like any other case of the same.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985030)

All too often (in the US) people get off free because the offense is blamed on the Corporation® and not the individual acting on behalf of the corporation.

Just for reference, this:

Kaffee: Did you order the Code Red?
Col. Jessep: I did the job I...
Kaffee: *Did you order the Code Red?*
Col. Jessep: *You're Goddamned right I did!*

doesn't work in real life.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

masmullin (1479239) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985510)

I thought their names were Tom and Jack?

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (2, Informative)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985078)

I'm not an expert in CA's version of this law, but here, it;s only stolen property if its REPORTED stolen, or if the owner comes to claim it and wishes to prosecute. Apple admitted they're not interested in filing criminal charges against Gizmodo (they could not buy publicity like they got, even if they didn't want it on that day). Since there's noone to make the charge, the police can not act on their own. Cops can't bust you for unreported crimes unless they're under certain statuates.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (2, Interesting)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985374)

Meh.. in most cases I would agree with you, but Gizmodo made it known that they had the property (after the finder himself tried to contact Apple), and returned it to the rightful owner when asked. Purchasing the property may have been an offense within the letter of the law, but it's a very weak chain of events for claiming damages when the property was promptly returned.

The only real damage here was the loss of confidentiality. But if Apple didn't want the information in public, they (or Mr. Powell acting as their agent) shouldn't have brought the phone out in public. If they didn't give him permission, then he's really the one to blame. But if they did, which is probably the case, then it was a risk they deemed acceptable. Even if they didn't consider the possibility outright, that would be negligence; i.e. not an excuse.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (2, Informative)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985892)

Meh.. in most cases I would agree with you, but Gizmodo made it known that they had the property (after the finder himself tried to contact Apple), and returned it to the rightful owner when asked.

After disassembling it, and posting the disassembly photos on their website, earning a huge wad of cash from advertisers in the process.

Purchasing the property may have been an offense within the letter of the law, but it's a very weak chain of events for claiming damages when the property was promptly returned.

Actually, the letter of the law prohibits the user from any use (I believe the statute says 'realizing benefits from') of the solen property as well. If they purchased the iPhone in order to funnel it directly to Apple to preserve their confidentiality, you would be right. However, they made money off the prototype, putting them clearly in violation of the law.

That said, I doubt Apple will press charges, but it seems they are clearly within their rights to do so.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986362)

As to it being stolen, until they had it they didn't KNOW it was an apple iphone prototype. It could have been some chinese knockoff. Indeed, odds are higher than not that "some random person trying to sell an lost iphone prototype" is passing a scam.

Further they returned it.

Actually, the letter of the law prohibits the user from any use (I believe the statute says 'realizing benefits from') of the solen property as well.

All they did was purchase a phone, which might might have been lost, might have been stolen, or might have not been an iphone at all, and then reported on it, and returned the device to the owner once it had been confirmed genuine.

No the 'realizing benefits from' angle is interesting, but this case is has another wrinkle, the 'benefit' they realized is shielded by the 'freedom of the press'. Which in some respects is stronger than 'freedom of speech'. After all ALL news sites report crime, directly "realizing benefits" from everything from murder to theft to rape in terms of selling advertising around it.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (3, Insightful)

zero_out (1705074) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984974)

You don't even have to know the law to be sure - a child could tell you that it's unethical and wrong.

Call me cynical, but law doesn't often follow ethics. There are so many instances where something is "wrong," but not illegal, for me to even begin citing them. Okay, I'll give you one. Adultery. Sure, there are some places where it is outlawed, but what percentage of instances does it fall into the realm of the illegal? At any time, if I were to have improper relations with a neighbor, I would not be breaking a law. It would be about as unethical as any civilized society could imagine, but not illegal.

Back on the topic at hand, yes, it was unethical for Gizmodo to do this. Did they know it was illegal? Possibly, but not necessarily. Even if they did know, I'm sure they did a cost/benefit analysis, and determined that the benefit outweighed the punitive damages. What a wicked world we live in, where someone weighs the cost of doing something unethical, against the gains for doing it.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

jemtallon (1125407) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985054)

I'd give ya a +1 funny if I had one :D

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985344)

There are so many instances where something is "wrong," but not illegal, for me to even begin citing them.

There are also many instances where something is illegal, but not wrong.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986032)

And, of course, there's quite a few things that are out there that are BOTH illegal *and* wrong.

That is, of course, if you believe that there is such a thing as "wrong."

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

Notquitecajun (1073646) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986076)

Stupid self-reply.

Quick addendum to my parent: Some things can be wrong whether or not we believe in "wrong."

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985466)

Back on the topic at hand, yes, it was unethical for Gizmodo to do this. Did they know it was illegal? Possibly, but not necessarily. Even if they did know, I'm sure they did a cost/benefit analysis, and determined that the benefit outweighed the punitive damages. What a wicked world we live in, where someone weighs the cost of doing something unethical, against the gains for doing it.

Except in this case, there are laws written specifically for trafficking in goods where the ownership is questionable. In this case, Gizmodo knew that the seller wasn't the owner and didn't have the authority of the owner. I think the law in California is that is the equivalent as knowing the good in question was stolen. Did Gizmodo not know this law? Possibly but a corporation with a lawyer on the payroll should have asked their legal counsel. An average person may not have access to legal representation might have more of an excuse.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (4, Interesting)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985060)

They paid $5K for the STORY, as registered journalists, and only after discussing this with lawyers, and after both Giz and the device's finder BOTH contacted apple and apple DENIED the prototype being lost. Gizmodo acquired the device under the promise to return it to it's rightful owner should one come forward, and the person who gave them the device could not be blamed for handing it over to an organization with known internal ties at the company.

Gizmodo never bought the phone, only the story. This has been upheld NUMEROUS times in local and federal courts. Thanks for playing...

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985762)

Citation Please. They bought the prototype phone. They happened to get numerous stories out of it, which happened to drive traffic to their site and increase revenues, but they still bought the phone.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985884)

Gizmodo never bought the phone, only the story. This has been upheld NUMEROUS times in local and federal courts. Thanks for playing...

Gizmodo might be trying to wrangle out of a charge here but does/did Gizmodo have POSSESSION of the phone? Possession means they bought the phone. Buying the story meant they paid $5K to interview the finder, take the phone apart, etc, then return it to the finder. That's paying for a story. Possession changes things.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (3, Informative)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985134)

The seller spent a pretty long time in the bar asking the patrons and the barman about the phone. He made it pretty certain this was a found item, not a stolen one and went to quite a bit of lengths to find the owner, and has a bunch of witnesses to confirm it.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

s73v3r (963317) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985774)

Yeah, but the seller's innocence in the matter ended when he was willing to sell it to Giz for $5k. The proper thing to do would be to turn it in somewhere, either to the bar's lost & found, or to the police. Hell, since they were able to find out who the guy is that lost the phone, he could have contacted that guy directly, on Facebook or something, to return it.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (0, Offtopic)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985174)

The difference between "found" and "stolen" is entirely in the mind of the... "finder".

There's a clear difference [huffingtonpost.com] between finding and stealing in the eyes of the media too.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (2, Informative)

xeoron (639412) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985580)

I, Cringely [cringely.com] , has a post saying it that this was a calculated Apple PR stunt. The only way to prove this would be if the engineer gets fired or Apple files charges against one or more parties.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (4, Funny)

dj245 (732906) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985744)

I refer you to the landmark case of Keepers v. Weepers.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (4, Interesting)

carvalhao (774969) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985004)

Well, since that model of iPhone hasn't been released yet, how can you prove that it's over $950?

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31985176)

If it's a prototype, that should be trivial.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985486)

Unreleased prototype of products usually have trade secrets in them and are worth more than the nominal value of the parts in them. Trade Secrets are worth a whole lot.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1, Redundant)

Sandbags (964742) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985014)

Sorry, they TRIED, as did the guy who sold it, to contact Apple. Apple actually DENIED the device was lost... Also, in the end, through MUCH trial and effort, the device WAS returned. Gizmodo did not buy the device, the device was handed over willingly and for free, gizmodo bought the STORY. The device was returned.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (2, Insightful)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985250)

The device is not worth $950. The price is the value of the item stolen, not what some idiot is willing to pay for it. If someone pays $10,000 for a stolen car that has a bluebook value of $3,000, it is recorded as a $3000 theft.

However, gizmodo said at the beginning that they had no intention of keeping the phone. In fact, the person that found it, and Gizmodo both tried to return it, many times. The finder cause it was the right thing to do, and Gizmodo, because then Apple would be acknowledging that it was, in fact, and Apple device and not a cheap chineese knockoff.

If someone steals your car, and I buy it from the, but give it back to you, am I a criminal?

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985634)

The device is not worth $950. The price is the value of the item stolen, not what some idiot is willing to pay for it. If someone pays $10,000 for a stolen car that has a bluebook value of $3,000, it is recorded as a $3000 theft.

The retail value of the device is worth less than $950 considering the parts; however, the device was a prototype, it is worth a lot more than the parts. Trade Secrets are worth a lot possibly tens of thousands of dollars.

However, gizmodo said at the beginning that they had no intention of keeping the phone. In fact, the person that found it, and Gizmodo both tried to return it, many times. The finder cause it was the right thing to do, and Gizmodo, because then Apple would be acknowledging that it was, in fact, and Apple device and not a cheap chineese knockoff.

If Gizmodo found the phone, it would be a different story. If Gizmodo was given the phone, it would be a different story. Gizmodo paid for the device knowing the seller wasn't the owner. Gizmodo says it tried to return the device to Apple. What Gizmodo didn't do is return the phone to the bar where it was found. That would seem to be perfect sense to any of us. Instead Gizmodo publishes a story about it.

If someone steals your car, and I buy it from the, but give it back to you, am I a criminal?

While that is noble of you, you unfortunately leave yourself open to criminal charges. Because you know your intentions; the law does not. What law enforcement sees is you buying something you knew didn't belong to the owner. You'll have to convince them that you really did intend to return it. However, the law will have to scrutinize your actions. If you bought it, then only searched in vain for the owner, the law might believe you. If you took it out on the town, blogged about your "new ride", etc, the law might perceive things differently.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985942)

Prototypes are built in small quantities, with special procedures, using small quantity parts orders. A whole separate group in the company assembles them than the mainline product. This prototype iPhone probably cost Apple in excess of $20,000 to produce.

Retail pricing vs actual value (1)

Burning1 (204959) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986034)

The value of an item is what people are willing to pay for it, not the retail cost or KBB value. Retail and blue book values are starting places, designed to reflect and perhaps control the market... But they are not the last absolute say on value.

Consider the console market: In December of 2006, a Sony PS3 was worth $1200, despite the fact that the retail cost was $599 for the 60 GB version.

Re:Gizmodo May Face Felony Charges (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986068)

And how exactly is this different from when the press uses leaked materials in general? Technically those are usually stolen as well, considering that the party that owns them would release the material if they wanted to. The press in general has relied upon that sort of thing for a really long time, strikes me as a bit odd to suggest that because the thing is a phone that belongs to Apple that suddenly things are different.

Heard of it? (4, Funny)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984648)

Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who left an important bit of technology in a bar recently. You might have heard of it.

No I have not! What is this "Apple" you speak of?

Re:Heard of it? (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984760)

No I have not! What is this "Apple" you speak of?

It's a fruit.

You're welcome.

Re:Heard of it? (3, Funny)

iMac Were (911261) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985436)

No I have not! What is this "Apple" you speak of?

It's a fruit.

Close - it's used by fruits [urbandictionary.com]

Re:Heard of it? (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31984798)

Some sort doctor repellent.

Re:Heard of it? (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984918)

From what I've heard you need to eat one every day. No wonder people say apples are expensive!

Re:Heard of it? (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985056)

Some record company started by the Beetles. No idea why its still relevant.

Re:Heard of it? (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985736)

The "Beetles"? Sounds like a cheap rip-off of The Beatles. They probably got sued by John, Paul, George, and Ringo for Trademark violation. Serves 'em right, too!

Re:Heard of it? (1)

waitwonder (1014869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985378)

Gray Powell, the Apple engineer who left an important bit of technology in a bar recently. You might have heard of it.

No I have not! What is this "Apple" you speak of?

Bad Apple.

Re:Heard of it? (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985530)

It's the music company that manages much of the Beatles' catalog.

Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (3, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984650)

If someone wants to take something classified out of a top secret military compound, he might have to secrete it on his person and deliberately sneak it past a guard who searches briefcases and purses. He might be committing a crime by doing so ...

Are you joking? Try losing their security clearance, being court marshaled and a probable investigation into 1) what motive you had removing classified material 2) where it was going and 3) how many other violations you knowingly committed.

... the corporate rules might have required him to pay attention to it at all times ...

I've gotten a corporate laptop with semi-sensitive material on it about the company I work for. I was given it when I traveled to various states. The guidelines were very clear. From locking it in the safe when I left the hotel room to not leaving it in my car. While it's less likely that someone would show up at a bar with a laptop, this is outright out of the question. Regardless of how lax their security measures are you might misplace a phone while drinking so don't bring it drinking! If you want to or accidentally take it drinking, you're accepting the risks.

It'd be hard for me to imagine that Apple -- the pseudosecretive company that it is -- wouldn't have stringent policies in place. Still, firing Powell would look less than heartless. I'd be shocked if any company as big as Apple didn't have such policies explicitly spelled out.

Re:Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (3, Interesting)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984860)

Yeah, I would place him as a mail-room clerk until he proves he can handle sensative information without releasing it to the public.

You know, we get the occaisonal user who manages to get a trojan or a worm on their computer at work. When we get the request ticket in, first thing we do is remotely check their Browser history and cache. Generally it boils down to a Russian or Korean website that was visitted. In some cases, it gets referred to by a rollover ad on a legitamit web page, so we don't punish them, but there are other times when you see them visitting some chinese news blogs about a hundred times a week. In this even, we walk over, unplug everything, and take the tower away, telling them we need to clean it ASAP and we don't want to risk spreading the infection. You or I would know this is highly unlikely, I've never encountered malware that has spread to a network drive, but I wouldn't put it past black hats to do such a thing if they wanted. Then we spend the next day or two cleaning the machine. Yeah, it usually only takes a few hours, slave it on our AV machine. But the idea is to teach them a lesson about visitting those websites. After they've been without their computer for a couple days, we tell them where they got the virus from, and warn them not to visit those sites.

It appears to be working.

The only other situation of security we've really come across was some guy in another department who clearly knew a bit about computers. He managed to tunnel into his own VPN to get past our firewall to run bittorrent and download movies, which he burned onto disc and was selling them apparently. When the IT manager, (My Boss) found out he went into quite a fit, launched a full IT investigation of the whole building, and in the end, so many people in that department were found to be visitting sites they shouldn't be, that half the department was canned.

I think it was a little overboard, but I guess the message was very clearly sent and recieved, that building has had no problems ever since.

Re:Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (3, Insightful)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985998)

Yeah, I would place him as a mail-room clerk until he proves he can handle sensative (sp.) information without releasing it to the public.

That's sort of ironic, given that the job responsibility of a mail-room clerk is to handle sensitive information while releasing it to the public.

Re:Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984998)

It'd be hard for me to imagine that Apple -- the pseudosecretive company that it is -- wouldn't have stringent policies in place. Still, firing Powell would look less than heartless. I'd be shocked if any company as big as Apple didn't have such policies explicitly spelled out.

The big question directly applicable to the case is what exactly those policies are and how they're enforced. From the article:

On the other hand, if Apple doesn't have clear-cut rules, if Powell wasn't prohibited from taking the phone out of his office, if engineers routinely ignore or bypass security rules and -- as long as nothing bad happens -- no one complains, then Apple needs to understand that the system is more to blame than the individual. Most corporate security policies have this sort of problem. Security is important, but it's quickly jettisoned when there's an important job to be done. A common example is passwords: people aren't supposed to share them, unless it's really important and they have to. Another example is guest accounts. And doors that are supposed to remain locked but rarely are. People routinely bypass security policies if they get in the way, and if no one complains, those policies are effectively meaningless.

As you noted, one would expect that stringent policies are in place (and if Woz's comments [gizmodo.com] are accurate, then that's probably true). But it's also a matter of how the corporate culture treats those policies. I've certainly been in environments where security policies were routinely ignored by anyone with any clout (especially when done as political favors) which completely undermines the overall effectiveness of those policies.

That seems to be the gist of Schneier's post. It's less about the incident in question and more about applying it to general concepts. It's always easier to explain these concepts when you've got real-world examples; even if just remotely applicable to your situation.

But with that in mind, I'm still curious as to what Apple's policies are. I would expect engineers have to do some sort of dogfood testing at some point - perhaps even sooner than later. And there's certainly value in taking a device you're developing and committing to it - making it the only device you use. In such a situation, corporate policy is going to have to accept a certain risk if they want to take advantage of that. Even with all the mitigation one can think of (there was a kill switch), there's still that risk.

Re:Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985642)

Maybe... But firing an employee for showing Steve Wozniak a product seems a little less defensible.

Re:Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (2, Interesting)

c (8461) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985698)

> Regardless of how lax their security measures are you might
> misplace a phone while drinking so don't bring it drinking!
> If you want to or accidentally take it drinking, you're
> accepting the risks.

Unless one of the reasons you have the thing is to test it under "realistic conditions".

If that's the reason Apple let him off their campus with the iPhone prototype (and, given how they camouflaged it as a 3G, I's say it was meant to be used where random non-Apple people would see it) then I'd say he did exactly what he was supposed to do... tested the remote disabling function by getting shitfaced and losing "his" phone.

Re:Too Bad We Don't Know Apple's Policies (1)

Bakkster (1529253) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986088)

If someone wants to take something classified out of a top secret military compound, he might have to secrete it on his person and deliberately sneak it past a guard who searches briefcases and purses. He might be committing a crime by doing so ...

Are you joking? Try losing their security clearance, being court marshaled and a probable investigation into 1) what motive you had removing classified material 2) where it was going and 3) how many other violations you knowingly committed.

Probable? Disseminating classified information is a felony, as well as a federal crime. If you sneak it out (and it's not likely one would 'accidentally' leave a site with classified info) you can be well assured that losing your security clearance is the least of your worries...

Also, afaik, you can only be court martialed if you are an active service member. Not everyone with access to that kind of stuff is military (contractors, consultants, non-military agencies, politicians).

Everyone and Everything! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31984664)

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Is the self-fornication really necessary?

How can they? (3, Insightful)

Alexvthooft (1798010) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984668)

A PR agent finally does what he is supposed to (for once in his life with great succes) and they punish him for it. Apple's 1997 slogan goes to waste here Think different? Yeah right!

Fired and sued (1, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984688)

There's only one way to take care of someone who leaks mission critical information.

First you fire them. No sense in keeping them around if they are going to fuck up like that.
Next you sue them for major damages. Make an example out of them.

Since a corporation has no way to punish someone with actual jail time, the next best thing is to make sure people think twice before making big mistakes again.

Re:Fired and sued (4, Insightful)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984844)

There's only one way to take care of someone who leaks mission critical information.

First you fire them. No sense in keeping them around if they are going to fuck up like that.
Next you sue them for major damages. Make an example out of them.

Since a corporation has no way to punish someone with actual jail time, the next best thing is to make sure people think twice before making big mistakes again.

Then you wonder where all the job applicants went.

Re:Fired and sued (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984862)

Apple's got no trouble attracting applicants.

For Now (3, Insightful)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984988)

Apple's got no trouble attracting applicants.

They might do, if they continue to grow a reputation for Stasi style tactics and policies that make Orwell look like an optimist. Which firing and suing this guy would certainly do.

How far Apple is from the tipping point of going from "a cool place to work" to "last chance saloon for those desperate enough and unable to get work elsewhere" is an open question, particularly in today's economy. But one thing is certain...they are closer to that point now than they were two years ago, and will be a whole lot closer still if they act in a vindictive manner toward a guy who simply made a mistake any of us could have made.

After all, who hasn't lost a cell phone at least once in their life? (A good reason to never volunteer to test prototypes, especially if your lifestyle includes the occasional pub visit)

Re:For Now (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985048)

This is the company that can attract top shelf employees despite having Steve Jobs as CEO.

Re:For Now (1)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985982)

This is the company that can attract top shelf employees despite having Steve Jobs as CEO.

It's momentum. Consider GWB's popularity after 9/11. Disappointment usually lags reality.

Re:For Now (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985106)

(A good reason to never volunteer to test prototypes, especially if your lifestyle includes the occasional pub visit)

The problem is, part of the testing job is to determine the beer / vomit / smoke resistance of the prototype, before the users test the production models in the same environment. At least they got data on its "theft resistance" characteristics...

Better watch out for that backlash, dude. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31984908)

There's only one way to take care of someone who leaks mission critical information.

First you fire them. No sense in keeping them around if they are going to fuck up like that.
Next you sue them for major damages. Make an example out of them.

Since a corporation has no way to punish someone with actual jail time, the next best thing is to make sure people think twice before making big mistakes again.

There's only one way to take care of a company that is so antithetical to mankind's interests.

First, the rest of us, who have a sense of real (human) justice, get together and burn down the headquarters of your vicious little company. No sense keeping a company around that is going to fuck real people for simply being human. Make an example out of it (and its shareholders).

Since humans have no way to prevent a company running amok in our rampent corpratist state and trampling every vestige of fairness or equity, the next best thing is to make sure companies thing twice before making big mistakes again.

Re:Better watch out for that backlash, dude. (1)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984944)

You get right on that, Sparky.

Re:Better watch out for that backlash, dude. (1)

FreeUser (11483) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985690)

You get right on that, Sparky.

lol!

Why do people go straight for "scorched Earth" approaches, when a simple media campaign would do.

To the GP post: they fire and sue the guy. Blog, report, and blow the shit out of the company's reputation among those in the technical field if it comes to that.

But arson? c'mon.

Ummm WTF? (2, Insightful)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984924)

Firing, I can understand, but suing? No one was publicly humiliated or libeled. No one was physically harmed or killed. No one else suddenly lost their job. No one was discriminated against or denied rights or equal protection under the law. No one cheated or stole anything. No one was placed in potential harms way.

IANAL so I won't comment on if someone could be legally sued for this right now in the US. But I will say that I don't think anyone should be sued for this nor do I think the law should allow it. The guy goofed by leaving a phone in a bar, this isn't like falling asleep while monitoring a nuclear power plant. Being fired is enough punishment.

Re:Ummm WTF? (0, Troll)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985110)

This is America. You can sue anyone for anything at any time. I could sue you right now for hurting my feelings with your post...and if I had an expensive lawyer (who didn't tell me to take a hike for being frivolous) I'd probably win.

Re:Ummm WTF? (1)

hellfire (86129) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985630)

No that's not true. Yes you can initiate a lawsuit and sue anyone for anything, but there is no legal basis for your feelings being hurt by this post, and with a middling lawyer you will be laughed out of court by all but the craziest of judges.

Re:Ummm WTF? (1)

geekboy642 (799087) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986290)

That was exactly my point. I've seen so many frivolous lawsuits allowed to go on far longer than they should have. From the oft-referenced woman who burned herself with a cup of coffee to the lawsuit that prompted safety warning stickers on chainsaws to the criminal who hurt himself while burgling a home, American society seems to have a mania for lawsuits without merit.

Obviously I don't think there's any merit to a lawsuit over a forum post unless it crosses into the kind of slander that is actionable, but it was an example of the kind of idiocy that our judges don't seem to throw out quickly enough.

Re:Fired and sued (3, Interesting)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984956)

Next you sue them for major damages. Make an example out of them.

In this case, what are the damages exactly?

Re:Fired and sued (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985226)

The money Apple spent on the marketing campaign to drive up the hype of said new model, which is no longer going to be something shiny and new when it's officially announced?

Re:Fired and sued (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31985462)

In this case, what are the damages exactly?

Divulging trade secrets.

Re:Fired and sued (1)

xednieht (1117791) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984978)

Maybe if they served German beer at the Genius Bar this wouldn't be a problem.

Re:Fired and sued (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984986)

There's only one way to take care of someone who leaks mission critical information.

Nuke him from orbit?

Re:Fired and sued (3, Insightful)

baKanale (830108) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985268)

Since a corporation has no way to punish someone with actual jail time

Because a world where that happens is a world I'm sure we'd all fucking love to live in.

Could this be some kind of cleaver marketing ploy? (2, Interesting)

willabr (684561) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984720)

I wonder if this was a way to let people know another one is on the way. The way the "Blogosphere" is intentionaly manipulated by corporation is obvious to me. This whole scenario seems unlikely to me.

Um, why is Slashdot publishing this guy's name? (1)

Estanislao Martnez (203477) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984820)

After very visibly refusing to name the guy who lost the prototype [slashdot.org] , why is Slashdot now doing so?

Re:Um, why is Slashdot publishing this guy's name? (1)

bubulubugoth (896803) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984922)

Because giving name to things make them more believable...

This story is a well crafted stunt... there are so many impossibles that it is a good legend... some parts are true, mostly gossips. Want to turn a gossip in a true, give it a name.

 

STOP ADVERTISING FOR APPLE (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31984834)

Please stop these stupid articles about someone fucking up or planting a phone.

Stop it.

Stop advertising for them.

Re:STOP ADVERTISING FOR APPLE (1)

DIplomatic (1759914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985292)

Please stop these stupid articles about someone fucking up or planting a phone.

Stop it.

Stop advertising for them.

Oh, Sorry. I guess I should take off my t-shirt that says "Extra! Extra! Prominent Technology Company is Preparing a Newer, More Powerful Version of a Successful Product!! Read All About It!"

Re:STOP ADVERTISING FOR APPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31985376)

This isn't advertising. It's Comic Relief.

The difference is subtle, but only if you aren't an apple fanbois.

Re:STOP ADVERTISING FOR APPLE (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31985480)

Wow, do you really get so upset over seeing an Apple article? The solution is really simple: don't stop reading and don't click on the article to comment. Continue scrolling the mouse wheel to the next headline.

hmm (2, Interesting)

nomadic (141991) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984916)

As much as everyone had been beating up on gizmodo for leaking this guy's name, I would not be surprised if the only reason he kept his job was because of the publicity.

Apple Security Propaganda Poster (1)

MichaelCrawford (610140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984934)

This poster was displayed here and there around Apple back when I worked there in the mid-90s: "Many of our competitors dine in the same fine restaurants we do."

This to advise one not to discuss trade secrets over lunch.

Is there anything new here? (1)

ProdigyPuNk (614140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984984)

Is there anything in this blog post that wasn't in the comments for the last 3 (or more) articles on this subject ?

Really it's up to Apple what they want to do - assuming it isn't all a ruse in the first place. Although the same thing could happen to anyone with a prototype, it's still a Bad Thing (TM) and it's still up to Apple what they want to do. There's really no news here at all...

The boredom of the iPhone (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 4 years ago | (#31984990)

Come to think of it, as the lost iPhone was really already a 4th generation device, Apple probably wasn't seeking any sort of punitive measures against the guy, and the restrictions on personal use of prototype hardware was probably heavily reduced.

After all, it's an iPhone. We've seen the 3 previous models already. And there isn't much new or innovative Apple could've put in.

Hell, Apple doesn't make big announcements when they introduce new Macs (like they did a couple of weeks ago) - just a quiet little refresh, and every other site picks up and makes it news, even though it's just spec bumps here and there and minor new features. Maybe if there was a super-big-fantastic announcement (e.g., Blu-Ray support), but for the msot part, most announcements are low-key. It's hard to generate buzz. Or hell, when the iMacs came out and the 27" came with a video input.

Ditto the iPods - sure a nice keynote on the new features, but then again, the old iPod Touch and the Classics got barely a mention despite getting upgrades.

The iPhone's getting to that point - it's a phone, there's not much one can improve on it hardware-wise. Hell, the 3GS was pretty much "meh" on the hardware, other than making the software fly. The software that drives the iPhone though is probably quite intriguing, but we already learned about 4.0.

Now, the secrecy behind the iPad was probably quite high, as were restrictions placed on it because it's a new Apple product. There were rumors, but until the big announcement, no concrete details.

Apple's learned several things over the past decade - first, takedown notices are a surefire way to confirm rumors. Second, it doesn't have to be super-secretive on everything - things that are likely to underwhelm on presentation (like mere spec upgrades), well, let it leak (there were so many SKUs posted on the new MacBooks that we knew they were coming). Thus, Apple concentrates the secrecy on its second gen iPad and whatever new device it's concocting. New screen? Front facing camera? Meh features - the only thing Apple can do is either drop one or the other (due to availability and/or software issues) and leave it for the next model. After all, they appeared to do that with the camera feature on the iPod Touch 3rd gen.

Shittiest example (2, Insightful)

jim_v2000 (818799) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985246)

of a security breach ever. A viral marketing campaign where someone "loses" a prototype phone at a bar does not count as a "security breach".

Re:Shittiest example (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31985380)

But OMG it's apple's SECRET TECHNOLOGY they might lose $234381 trillion!!

THERE'S A COMPANY AT STEAK!!!!!!!!

Re:Shittiest example (2)

night_flyer (453866) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985396)

mmmmmmmmm.... steak

Re:Shittiest example (1)

jittles (1613415) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985456)

But OMG it's apple's SECRET TECHNOLOGY they might lose $234381 trillion!!

THERE'S A COMPANY AT STEAK!!!!!!!!

Mmmmm steak! Sign me up.

Re:Shittiest example (1)

GillyGuthrie (1515855) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985732)

You're making me hungry.

Fanboi Article (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985532)

Schneier makes no mention of this being an Apple publicity stunt. Gee, I guess that makes him an Apple-Fanboi, that's what those are who don't believe this.

Not such a big deal (1)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985552)

You also might have been on either the breacher or the corporate side. I'd hate to be in either position myself.

It's not a problem if you handle it correctly. After we disemboweled the first guy, you'd have been surprised at how strong everyone's passwords became.

Something's wierd about this (2, Interesting)

ErichTheRed (39327) | more than 4 years ago | (#31985686)

I know Apple is famous for "accidentally" leaking hints of upcoming technologies out to generate buzz, but this is strange. If I were in a highly-competitive market and wanted to not give the Chinese knockoff makers a head start on my design, the last thing I'd do is let it out of the building.

I could see Apple anonmyously leaving photos or spec sheets around. Maybe they might even take a -mock-up- out in the wild like car companies do when they are track-testing a new model. (iPhone in a Samsung case? :-) ) But there's no real reason for them to "field-test" a device like that. Apple has a large corporate campus, and I guarantee they have the strongest ATT signal in the entire country. Plus, if you're testing stuff like GPS, you don't have to go across town, you just have to go across the building. Nah, this guy just had to show his buddies, and he lost it. That really sucks for him, because no matter what actually happened, he's never going to be trusted to work on secret products again. Even if Steve Jobs himself said, "Go take this phone for a spin." and he can prove it, there's always going to be the doubt that he has the self-control to keep quiet about what he's doing.

I know people who work in high-security environments, where they design products in a race to be the first to the Patent Office. Most are absolutely forbidden from even talking about what they're working on. I highly doubt that Pfizer or Bristol-Myers allows their researchers to take their lab notebooks anywhere outside their labs. People desiging the next netbook or mobile phone are in a similar situation -- 10 seconds after a prototype gets out, it will be glommed up, reverse-engineered, and a cheaper faster version will be out a week before yours.

Given all the draconian stuff I've heard about Apple being a wierd place to work, I'm sure they have an incredibly strict policy about secrecy...that is, they control the message, not the employee working on it.

Re:Something's wierd about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31986120)

Yeah, cause the best way to test a device that is used all over the world in unimaginable ways is to never let it out of the facility.

Them having great ATT signal proves that it is not like the rest of the country. Want to know how it works on sketchy coverage? Take it out of the building.

So you think that all of the car manufacturers that drive their cars up into the Arctic, the Rockies or the desert just do it because they want to leak what their car looks like? No they want to know how it works outside the lab. The real world is often different to the lab. Maybe you want to visit it some time.

Too bad... (1)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986132)

..the "leak" wasnt an accident. This is how apple hypes just about EXERYTHING is that they "leak" somehow.

Punishment prevents or delays fixing the problem. (2, Informative)

zerofoo (262795) | more than 4 years ago | (#31986272)

Long ago we decided that if anyone in our company breaches security by losing an access card, or sharing a password, we would not punish the person responsible if they came forward immediately.

This policy encourages a quick resolution to the security breach. A lost security card or password can be disabled or reset thereby limiting the damage the mistake caused.

Persecuting people that make mistakes only delays the notification process, and then delays the fix - putting more people/things at risk.

People make mistakes, they happen, and there is nothing you can do to prevent them.

-ted

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