back to article Another Apple engineer cuffed over alleged self-driving car data theft: FBI swoop on bod as he boards plane to China

A second Apple engineer has been arrested by the Feds for allegedly stealing copies of the tech giant's self-driving car blueprints. Jizhong Chen was hired as an electrical engineer in June 2018 for Cupertino's secretive autonomous vehicle project in the US, which Apple has still yet to publicly acknowledge. On January 11 this …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    On a performance improvement plan already, after getting hired last June? That's fast work. Or not, apparently.

  2. corestore

    "Those core staffers are split into siloed departments, and only have access to their own department's databases with every request to look outside their immediate area of work reviewed by an administrator."

    "...A programmer who gets authorization to learn about the addressing structure has to demonstrate a separate need to know to learn the instruction set. The avowed aim of all this red tape is to prevent anyone from understanding the whole system; this goal has certainly been achieved..." - Internal IBM memo commenting on the security procedures for the *failed* FS project.

    1. GreggS

      FS or FFS?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Open Trust

    I guess it's not too hard to get into the super secret areas of Apple.

    In less than a year's worth of employment, you can come on-board and view the prized material.

    Don't worry about doing a good job. You only need to crash the plane, not land it.

  4. DougS Silver badge

    Grabbed documents to apply for a job in another part of Apple?

    That excuse isn't going to go far, Apple's reputation for secrecy even extends externally - employees on the Titan project aren't supposed to share details with employees in other parts of the company, just like employees working on the 2020 iPhone aren't supposed to share details with guys working on Macs.

    1. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

      Re: Grabbed documents to apply for a job in another part of Apple?

      WHO TOLD YOU ABOUT TITAN!?!?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fail

    Forbidden Apple to Forbidden City = FAIL

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Fail

      Forbidden

      Apple

      Illegal

      Leach

      =FAIL

      ftfy

  6. phuzz Silver badge
    Windows

    It's a bit cliche to be stealing secrets for China, when are we going to see some Welsh* nationalist stealing secrets from Tesla so that they can build a home grown Welsh electric car eh?

    * for example

    1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

      ... some Welsh* nationalist stealing secrets from Tesla so that they can build a home grown Welsh electric car eh?

      Design from leaks, built by leeks

    2. devTrail

      It's a bit cliche to be stealing secrets for China ...

      If the theft succeeds it's a little bit more difficult to chase a company in China than in a western country. The odds are way better even in cases like this where it doesn't seem there's any government or big company involvement.

  7. devTrail

    how much were they getting?

    So the first one applied for a job in a Chinese company, I don't know whether he received an big offer to steal trade secrets, but for sure he already decided to leave. I wonder how much he was paid, you might expect an engineer working in a critical project in a big company to be getting a good salary and a lot of perks in order to keep some attachment to the company, but it seems nowadays corporations don't care so much about it.

    1. Claptrap314 Bronze badge

      Re: how much were they getting?

      There is another angle to this. According to last summer's Party congress, everyone in China has the duty to steal tech. There is a non-trivial possibility that the engineer in question was facing reeducation for himself or his family if he did NOT attempt to steal the tech.

      There is a huge false equivalency bouncing around here between the behavior of individual Americans in history verses the current state policy of China. Follow that line, and you blind yourself to real threats.

      1. devTrail

        Re: how much were they getting?

        According to last summer's Party congress, everyone in China has the duty to steal tech.

        Why are you trolling?

    2. The First Dave

      Re: how much were they getting?

      Sounds like he only joined Apple for one reason...

      1. Snake
        FAIL

        Re: how much were they getting?

        "Sounds like he only joined Apple for one reason..."

        Exactly. So why is Apple, on a self-proclaimed secret project, hiring a foreign worker on some type of work visa, who can't possibly be security vetted?

        I'm not trying to sound biased nor racist. But you hired a worker from a foreign land, a land that has been proclaimed as notable for stealing technical advancements, *and* there is no possible way to vet any and all types of security clearance guarantees. And NOW you're realizing that he may have ulterior motives?!

        Are you [Apple], well, this stupid??! There are PLENTY of advanced technicians with backgrounds that can be more favorably researched and vetted. Yes, that includes people from all over the world but from areas not proclaimed as hostile to technical secrets, or from places that are considered "friendly" to American interest & causes.

        But you, Apple, had to get greedy, almost certainly hiring a technician at probably a lower cost than his coworkers. Because you wanted to save the $$$$. And his performance wasn't anything to write home about, either.

        So how did your great idea turn out, guys?

        Am I not feeling any empathy for 'poor' Apple here, frankly.

        1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

          Re: how much were they getting?

          My first thought. Are these folks from China so utterly brilliant or so utterly cheap that it's worth the world of an H-1B to get 'em over and insert them into your team? It's not like China has a huge, long track record of stealing industrial data, eh?

      2. devTrail

        Re: how much were they getting?

        Sounds like he only joined Apple for one reason...

        Sound like he joined Apple with great expectations, but was quickly disappointed.

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: how much were they getting?

          They have caught two, I wonder how many have got away with it.

        2. Nightkiller

          Re: how much were they getting?

          @ DevTrail

          Fool me once, shame on you.

          Fool me twice, shame on me.

  8. Ken Mitchell

    Out on Bail?

    Why would ANY sane judge grant bail? He's ALREADY trying to flee the United States; that's the very definition of "flight risk"!

  9. The Nazz Silver badge

    $100,000 in cash.

    If the guy has not been there very long, it is implied he was brought in as "cheap" labour, i'd be curious as to where and how he's accumulated so much cash.

    And besides, any "secret data" he's allegedly nicked has presumably long since found it's way back to China, if that is the case. Hardly likely to have saved it all up to take with him as hand luggage.

    When depositing bail, wonder if he was a Shel fan?

    https://www.poeticous.com/shel-silverstein/100-000-pennies

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EV2cDXBrzr8

    1. devTrail

      Re: $100,000 in cash.

      If the guy has not been there very long,

      Where did you read it? The article say he was hired by Apple in 2018, but it doesn't say whether ha came from China or was already working in the US.

      Furthermore the article says he paid part of the bail in cash as opposed to a property collateral, but it doesn't necessarily have to be actual cash.

      1. The Nazz Silver badge

        Re: $100,000 in cash.

        "There" being Apple and not the USA.

        *He has been released on $500,000 bail after lodging $100,000 in cash and putting some property up as collateral. ®*

        What else is cash if it isn't actual cash?

        I know i imagine a lot of things but sometimes i get it right. Or near enough. :-)

        1. devTrail

          Re: $100,000 in cash.

          "There" being Apple and not the USA.

          Apple is not the only employer in the USA

          He has been released on $500,000 bail after lodging $100,000 in cash and putting some property up as collateral

          What else is cash if it isn't actual cash?

          If he had some money or some saving he could quickly sell in a bank and paid by bank transfer the whole thing doesn't sound creepy.

          If he really paid cash sounds like having an unexplained source of money. The interpretation of the wording here can make a lot of difference and it seems you know it and you played with it.

          I know i imagine a lot of things but sometimes i get it right. Or near enough.

          You took so many assumptions from the few details present in the article that you have many chances as anyone else to get it right.

    2. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: $100,000 in cash.

      i'd be curious as to where and how he's accumulated so much cash.

      Bail Bondsman. Here in the States, you put up 10% (this may have gone higher) to the bail bondsman who keeps it and may require additional "monetary security" in case you skip. He/she pops for the whole bail. Look to the several very high profile cases where the perp (alleged) skipped bail and those who put up money lost it all when they ran off and left the country.

  10. mutin

    security is not chinesity

    I wonder about stupidity of both guys caught by Apple security, see the article how that happened. China is known very much for stealing secrets. So, why to hire a guy with certainly weak background (dad in China, i.e. the family is there) for the secret project when it was already the same kind of case?

    Do not tell me about EOE when we see in US East Coast IT departments 100% guys from India. So, just avoid hiring guys with questionable background. Or we do not have enough American citizens to do coding? Then why? Would it be better to educate guys here for free than exporting potential spies?

    I also see very bad security level at Apple secret facility - guy was able to copy from network (!) to his personal storage (!). Why do they permit storing secret files on personal computers? Apple network does not work?

    It seems to me that Apple is fitting in the case "security by obscurity". They are building Maginot Line to defend while not so stupid guys can always go around.

    1. Carpet Deal 'em
      Facepalm

      Re: security is not chinesity

      > I also see very bad security level at Apple secret facility - guy was able to copy from network (!) to his personal storage (!). Why do they permit storing secret files on personal computers? Apple network does not work?

      Very much this: why are people permitted to keep any data on personal devices if it's supposed to be this top secret? If they need people to be able to work on it outside the office, it's trivial to setup a connection that doesn't let the data leave the server.

    2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      Re: security is not chinesity

      "Or we do not have enough American citizens to do coding?"

      There are plenty lining up. Unfortunately, they don't have a lot of coding experience since earning their PhD in Gender Studies and starting work at Buzzfeed.

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