12 July, 2018
Former Apple hardware engineer was arrested at the airport, who worked on autonomous cars at Apple, looking forward to board a flight for China with secrets
Xiaolang Zhang was a hardware engineer who worked for Apple. He was caught on Saturday at San Jose International Airport. He tried to board a flight to Beijing, on his way to Hangzhou, China, according to San Jose report. He was charged with stealing trade secrets from the Apple about autonomous cars on Monday.
Zhang left Apple on the terms of paternity leave in April and visited his family in China during this time. After returning, he informed the company that he would be leaving and planned to live in Guangzhou to tend to his ill mother. He also told a supervisor that he was joining Chinese electric car startup XMotors.
Apple noticed unusual download activity, which lead them to believe that he may have downloaded information illegally. When Zhang was confronted, he admitted that he was in Apple’s hardware labs and had taken items including two circuit boards and a linux server.
FBI was immediately notified, and they searched Zhang’s residence. He was interviewed by agents, at which time he admitted to taking files, a process that involved air-dropping documents to his wife’s personal computer.
According to an FBI report, some 5,000 of Apple’s 135,000 full time employees are disclosed to parts of the initiative, though not all have access to databases containing sensitive material.