Categories: News

Ex-Apple Employee Stole Car Data And Tried To Flee To China

Apple Employee Stole Car Data And Tried To Flee To China

In the world of major tech companies, there is a definite strong ethos for the protection of company data. You probably see this even at the level where you work. There is data that if you attempt to share it with 3rd parties it will almost certainly get you sacked and even possibly taken to court.

In terms of companies like Apple though, I’m fairly sure it doesn’t happen often. In a report via Bloomberg, however, an Apple employee has been accused of stealing data appertaining to their self-driving car technology. More so, the person is also accused of trying to flee to China with it with the expressed purpose of selling it!

Are We Back In The Cold War?

Defections and similar matters were a reasonably common thing between the 1950’s and 1980’s. Well, common isn’t the right word, but it certainly wasn’t unheard of. There is a story, for example, of Russian Engineers who were invited to a Rolls Royce plant in Britain in the 40’s. A jet engine was gambled on over a game of pool and Russia won taking the engine back home with them. In addition, they also wore shoes specifically designed to pick up metal fragments off the floor for later analysis. A few years later Russian MiG jets were shooting our planes down in the Korean War.

Admittedly, this is a bit of a sidetrack. When I heard of this, however, I was immediately reminded of this. Apparently, company espionage is still very much alive and well even in 2018.

Escape To China

In the report, Zhang Xiaolang, who used to work at Apple’s car technology centre downloaded several key documents and files. He was caught at a Califonia airport attempting to smuggle these through on his wife’s laptop. It is believed that he stole the data with the expressed purpose of looking to sell it to person/s unknown in China where he had a flight booked.

He was originally employed in 2015 as part of Apple’s self-driving car department opened. Since then Apple scaled back operations and he was let go. Not before, however, seemingly taking a copy of the data for himself.

Exactly how he was discovered is unclear, albeit I daresay the FBI probably had a hand in it.

What Will Happen?

Well, Apple is clearly going to be very concerned. Getting the data back is one thing, but they don’t actually know if he has shared it with anyone yet. In addition, it’s hard to say exactly what he is going to be charged with. Is it outside of the realms of possibility that this could constitute treason?

What do you think? – Let us know in the comments!

Mike Sanders

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