How Apple Is Protecting the iPhone 5's Secrets

An outside executive who got an iPad describes two separate keys and actual handcuffs

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It happened once, and it might have happened again: An Apple employee leaves a prototype product lying around in a bar, to be discovered by some hapless patron who then sells it for a few thousand bucks to a tech blog. But based on some details Fast Company turned up in a story on Friday, it seems a small miracle that anything ever gets past the clutches of Apple security. Of course, this battery of borderline ridiculous security measures is how they deal with people outside the company who get prototypes for development reasons. It is intense, Fast Co. learned from an unnamed executive who got ahold of an early iPad:

First off, Apple would only allow a select few from this executive's company to know the company was in possession of an iPad--not even the company's CEO knew. The select few included a few developers, and Apple required a list of their names and Social Security numbers. These employees were of course forbidden to talk about the device--to tell anyone what it looked like or that the company had the device on hand.

To further safeguard this process, Apple required the device be kept in a window-less or blacked-out room, which had to be fitted with a new lock that only two keys could open. Apple held on to one key; the executive to the other.

The iPad itself was then flown out to the company via private plane. Once it arrived, even the revealed product was encased in a clunky outer shell--the company exec describes it to me as a "black plastic" case, which made it moot to snap any photos of the device. What's more, Apple also padlocked the case to a desk within the room. Apple then took pictures of the device padlocked to the desk, making sure to capture the table's wood grain. That way if any pictures did leak, Apple could trace the images back to the particular desk and wood grain they were taken on, and thus trace the leaks to the company in its possession.

The iPhone 5's release is set for Oct. 4, so there are just a few more days to wait until the big reveal, this time with new CEO Tim Cook trotting out techies' favorite new toy. Read the rest at Fast Company.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.