Monday, December 24, 2012

Corrupt Apple Store Employees Come Forward Across America

We thought the crookedest little Apple Store in Texas was an isolated case. We were wrong: confessions from Apple's retail squads around the country (and world) poured in. Apple has a serious naughty behavior problem on its hands, and the Evil Geniuses are speaking out.

The sources we talked to this summer described an Apple Store that wasn't just poorly managed—it was a personal playground. Computers were traded for plastic surgery, iPhones were smashed like party favors, and employees outright stole from the back room for their own pleasure. It was a den of misuse and abuse, all under the gleaming white aegis of Apple Retail. The perfection is a myth.
And now we know the store-gone-crazy is systemic, reaching from Tennessee to Vancouver, and across oceans. Here's what's happening in the stores you trust. The following sources contacted us via email and Skype, ranging from the Southeast, Tennessee, across California, Massachusetts, Canada, Maryland, Michigan, New York, New Jersey, and Texas. There were even more—"I worked in the most corrupt in the UK"—who couldn't be included in time.

The habit of breaking things just because you can ran throughout our Genius Bar confessions. Because sometimes breaking expensive things is fun. For almost everyone who wrote in, the inventory room was a playground—and management was either oblivious or in on the action.

Destroying merchandise is treated as a game.
Managers overlooked Geniuses intentionally ruining iPads, buying drugs from employees and sexually harassing them instead.

Destroying expensive things for fun wasn't just a game—it was a documented game. Destructive Geniuses actually snap evidence of their handiwork. Here we see a shattered iPad, brand new in its box.

After the thrill of breaking wears off, you might as well start taking it for yourself.

The trick of swapping out broken, old, or otherwise unwanted employee gadgets for brand new ones out of store inventory was a regular one. Discount codes were also applied liberally where they didn't belong. In short: Geniuses played the system to get free toys.

Nicole, who contacted me after reading our first Genius Bar report, didn't have much to worry about when she worked back in the inventory room. It was like a bunch of kids in detention.

sambiddle: was management.. not doing much?
nicole: Definitely not in our store
nicole: They were generally in the office texting about their tragic lives, playing angry birds, on the floor texting, or hooking up with each other in the closets

These two employees stole straight from the source—one even flipped Apple components and swapped in cheaper ones he bought online.

But Nicole probably wins for the zaniest heist: the giant display iPhones Apple places in its store windows:

sambiddle: did you ever take things for yourself? since you were right there with ALL the inventroy
sambiddle: inventory
nicole: I took visual items a lot
nicole: and gave them away to other employees a lot.. instead of destroying them like indicated
sambiddle: what are those?
nicole: Like you know the display headphones on the floor? And the acrylics and cables and everything?
nicole: Or the giant ipods in the window displays
sambiddle: yeah
nicole: I'd take things like that a lot
sambiddle: HAHA wait you took the giant ipods!?!
nicole: I have a giant nano, an ipod touch, some popcorn, a giant table from the "GO GREEN" window.. I have a pretty large collection

sambiddle: did you witness any abuse/theft/destruction etc?
nicole: definitely. even within our team although we were the ones responsible for catching and reporting it so obviously when it was within our team it wasn't reported
Whenever any apple branded items are returned (as long as they aren't serialized like ipods/computers/ipads and such) they get thrown in a box called scrap which basically goes back to apple recycling.. and people constantly took things out of there.. we had specialists taking easypays and floater ipod touches home constantly
nicole: They sell REALLY well on ebay
sambiddle: did you guys ever just fuck with inventory?
sambiddle: break things?
nicole: One of the inventory guys with me did
nicole: he was a definite hot head. He broke a few imac screens and would throw things sometimes
sambiddle: just for fun?
nicole: never got in trouble because management thought it was funny. but a genius threw an ipod touch and broke it and got fired immediately
nicole: yeah usually for fun or if he was pissed off

Sex(ual Harassment) and Personal Violation
Our store source say managers and staffers harass each other regularly, with no consequences. Personal information—both staff and customer—is trivial.

nicole: yeah
nicole: she called me in the office once because one of the guys that worked there was struggling with his sexuality (completely NOT my business.. sure he told her that in confidant) and told me that all of us in the store who were bisexual and dating both sexes were just showing him it was a choice and just on and on with the church talk
nicole: management loved to do that. Share incredibly personal conversations with others under the guise of being "caring"
sambiddle: that's sure not good
nicole: Wage information.. sexuality.. medical conditions.. all of it

Geniuses digging through customer hard drives was widely reported.

If a woman walked in, her stuff would get digged through, shared, and laughed at. Team bonding. Your iPhone camera roll isn't safe.

A Texan tipster says he and his Genius friends had unrestricted access to customer personal data.

Good looking customers were given whatever they want, says this source.

Particularly—and with zero surprise—targeting attractive women.
We all know what "personal use" means.

nicole: we had an incredibly obnoxious manager who figured since he was gay it would be okay for him to grab girl's breasts and butt constantly
nicole: and he didn't get the hint when people asked him to please not do that lol

nicole: I remember we had a playmate (Is that what they're called?) like one of those college girls who isn't famous but she's naked nonetheless
sambiddle: hahah
nicole: she brought her computer in and I definitely remember a lot of the guys were going through her pics

Bethesda is a tony suburb of Washington, DC—and a plum market for Apple. The store rakes in money, and caters to affluent, powerful business clients in the region. And according to our source, is as crooked as Scott Forstall's jacket tassels.

He detailed a history of manipulation, deception, and borderline fraud.

iPhones ain't the only white thing you can find in an Apple Store.

Geniuses at this store bought and sold drugs to each other while you thought they were fixing your laptop.

There are—and will always be—miscreants in every job. Miners, lawyers, cooks, Geniuses—there's no industry that's immune to misbehavior. But when emails arrived in droves repeating the same naughty phenomena, you have to wonder why a company whose rep is as sterling as Apple's seems to have such a pattern of internal havoc. Employees lamented how the company's "culture has declined significantly," that the former "culture is definitely not there anymore." One former employee who had opened retail stores across North America and Asia claimed "The corruption within Apple goes straight to the top. That is why I left, I couldnt tolerate it anymore. Under Mr. Cook, Apple is fracturing from the inside out."

But there's probably a less theatrical explanation here. Apple Stores mint their own gold. They sell some of the most desirable expensive products in the history of desirable expensive products, without the pressure of commission. The stuff sells itself—and websites like ours sure help—and that's why Apple has the most profitable retail operation per square foot in the entire country. The stores make more money than Tiffany, which literally sells giant diamonds.

So why care? When you're in a fog of money, you can imagine it's easier to lose sight of scruples. This doesn't make stolen phones and smashed computers OK, but it might explain why its's so pervasive. And until Apple realizes that its own massive consumer success might actually be a liability, turning its sales mills into playgrounds, we're going to have ever reason to hesitate before handing over our MacBook to that smiling Genius.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First fake-installer Trojan for Mac OS

Russian anti-virus company Doctor Web informs users about a new Trojan for Mac OS X dubbed Trojan.SMSSend.3666. The malicious scheme used to spread this Trojan is notorious among many Windows users but until now it hasn't been employed to deceive owners of Macs. Trojan.SMSSend is a fake installer which can be downloaded from various sites under the guise of useful software.

Trojan.SMSSend programs are found in large numbers on the Internet. These are fake installers available on various sites disguised as distributions of legitimate software. When a user starts such an installer, they see the interface that imitates the installation wizard of a corresponding application. In order to continue the "installation" fraudsters ask that the victim enter their cellphone number into an appropriate field and then specify the code found in a reply SMS. By performing these actions the user agrees to terms of a chargeable subscription and a fee will be debited from their mobile phone account on a regular basis. Such installers usually contain meaningless data or the programs they are supposed to install, which in fact can be downloaded from official sites of their developers free of charge.

Trojans of this family used to plague Windows users, but Trojan.SMSSend.3666 targets owners of Apple computers. When the fake installer is launched, it displays the installation window of VKMusic 4 for Mac OS X, an application designed to listen to the music on a popular Russian social networking site. However, to activate the program, attackers traditionally require a cell phone number and a confirmation code.

As before, the malicious application is spread under the ill-famed "affiliate programme" ZipMonster that helps fraudsters craft such fake installers and assists in delivering payments to distributors of malware. It should be noted that Trojan.SMSSend.3666 is the first program of its kind that targets Mac OS X.

Doctor Web once again warns users against installing programs if they are required to submit their phone number or send a text message—most likely, you will lose money and end up with nothing. Moreover, you will most likely be able to find the program you want with a search engine and download it free of charge from an official site of its developers.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Australia police discourage use of Apple maps app after rescues

Police say they have rescued a half dozen motorists in recent weeks who were using the app to navigate to a city only to find themselves stranded in the wilderness of a national park.

Police say they have rescued a half dozen motorists in recent weeks who were using the app to navigate to a city only to find themselves stranded in the wilderness of a national park. "Anyone travelling to Mildura or other locations within Victoria should rely on other forms of mapping until this matter is rectified," the police concluded.
CNET has contacted Apple for comment and will update this report when we learn more.

Apple ignited consumer fervor in September when it opted to dump Google Maps from iOS6, forcing users to switch to Apple's app, which many users found to be underwhelming or inaccurate when compared with Google's offering.
The firestorm prompted Apple CEO Tim Cook to publicly apologize for the software and promise improvements. The ouster of iOS software chief Scott Forstall was said to be linked to Cook's apology and Forstall's unwillingness to sign it. Richard Williamson, who was in charge of the company's maps software for iOS, was also reportedly fired.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mac Malware Targets Dalai Lama Supporters

Fresh malware targeting Mac OS X has been seen spewing out of a website related to the Dalai Lama, a significant figure in Tibetan Buddhism.

The Dockster malware is using a Java-based exploit to break into people’s machines, security company F-Secure warned. The site in question is, and is not the official site, although it appears the two are related.

The malware itself has one similarity with the Flashback malware, which hit over 600,000 Mac machines, as they both exploited the same vulnerability.

Dalai Lama sites targeted

“Current versions of Mac OS X and those with their browser’s Java plugin disabled should be safe from the exploit,” an F-Secure blog read.

“The malware dropped, Backdoor:OSX/Dockster.A, is a basic backdoor with file download and keylogger capabilities.” The malware can also infect Windows users.

This is not the first time Dalai Lama supporters have been targeted. In November, Sophos said it had spotted a variant of the Imuler Mac Trojan spread alongside images of Tibetan organisations.

Earlier this year, Tibetan non-governmental organisations were targeted by another Mac Trojan, called MacControl.

Fingers have pointed at China in attacks on Tibetan digital infrastructure. China says it will decide who the next Dalai Lama is, but the current Dalai Lama has claimed the next in line could either be a woman or come from outside of Tibet.

In September, security firm AlienVault said it had discovered the creator of the PlugX Remote Access Tool (RAT), which had been used by hackers from various countries to target Tibet. The creator hailed from China.