They were using Apple's own internal computer system to gather the information before selling it on in a scam worth $7.3 million.
Apple may pride itself on offering its customers privacy and promising to protect their data, but in China, Apple's own employees have been working against the company in a huge data theft scam.
According to the Hong Kong Free Press (HKFP), Chinese authorities have been investigating the data selling scam for months and 22 people have now been arrested across the Guangdong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Fujian provinces. 20 of those are Apple employees.
The scam involved using Apple's own internal computer system and tools in order to collect the personal data of individual customers. This included names, phone numbers, Apple IDs, and every other bit of information Apple stores on its systems about individual owners/users of its devices and services.
With the data stolen, it was then sold on for between $1.50 and $26.50 per piece of information. In total, this underground operation is thought to have earned the suspects $7.36 million. One thing that remains unclear is whether the data stolen belonged to Chinese customers or includes records of users in other countries.
According to HKFP, personal information sales are very common in China, so while it may be surprising this happened for anyone reading this outside of China (including Apple's management team), it won't be to the Chinese authorities and general population. Apple will have to respond by publicly sharing details of exactly what personal data was stolen before implementing further security to ensure no more employees can manage to steal so much data so easily.
Justin Martin is joining the CPS team as a part-time intern focused on software and web development. Justin recently graduated from Brighton High School and will be attending Michigan Technological University in Houghton, MI starting the Fall of 2017. He plans on pursuing a degree in computer science with a focus in cyber security as well as a minor in physics. Justin has been with CPS since mid-February. Justin is our first part-time intern! We have and will continue to enjoy having him as part of the CPS team throughout the summer.
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