By Don Reisinger
September 11, 2017

Apple has long taken steps to reduce leaks from inside its headquarters, but one longtime Apple watcher thinks the company’s efforts might have failed with its latest iPhone.

In a post over the weekend, John Gruber said a leak over the weekend of information about Apple’s next iPhones, Apple Watch, and more could only have been done by a company employee with knowledge of where to find files and how to get them into the hands of reporters who would take them public.

“I’m nearly certain this wasn’t a mistake, but rather a deliberate malicious act by a rogue Apple employee,” Gruber said of the leaks.

Over the weekend, “gold master,” or final, builds of Apple’s iOS 11 mobile operating system hit the Web with a staggering array of details about Apple’s upcoming product launches. The leaks suggested that Apple will call its new smartphones this year the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X. The highest-end model, the iPhone X, will come with a facial scanner called Face ID, the leaks suggested.

Gruber said in his post that the leaks ruined “more surprises…than any leak in Apple history.”

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But there is a chance—albeit a small one—that someone outside of Apple (AAPL) could have discovered the software.

According to Gruber, the gold masters were actually public, but hidden behind “long, unguessable URLs.” It’s possible, then, that someone snooping around for Apple’s latest software could have stumbled upon it and promptly leaked it online.

However, Gruber, who has been one of the longest-running and most reliable Apple watchers with sources inside the company, said only an Apple employee would know those URLs. And for an unknown reason, that person decided to leak information.

Apple (AAPL) is notoriously secretive and the lengths at which it has gone to not allow product details to leak are legendary. There are reports of secret rooms inside Apple, a need-to-know philosophy on new products, and even attempts by Apple employees to throw even their colleagues off the scent. And although leaks have been increasingly common, Apple has largely kept the big announcements under wraps.

To be sure, it’s impossible to know for sure if the weekend leaks are accurate, even if industry watchers believe they’re legitimate. But there won’t be much time to ponder their accuracy: Apple is expected to make its new product announcements at a press event the company is hosting on Tuesday at its Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino.

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