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Not entirely true. Microsoft puts (almost? Yet to find anything that isn't) all our code on VSTS which is accessible remotely, without VPN. I've checked in a (very very minor docs) fix to the Windows code base from my Android phone over LTE.

That's amazing. Contrast that to my friend who works on code at Apple that's so guarded that he can't even access it from Apple HQ. He has to travel to his office in an unmarked Apple bldg several miles from HQ (in an unmarked van) and access the code from inside the bldg. Any attempt to work on his code outside that bldg, on the Apple employee shuttle for example, will result in immediate firing with possible criminal charges. Admittedly, that's not the usual Apple employee, but the contrast between that and Microsoft's, which may as well be hosted on a set of Chinese night market DVDs, is LOL-worthy.


and yet, which company released an OS update with an open root account with no password, patched it in a way that broke file sharing, then a couple of months later released an update with another password bypass bug? Hobbling people with security theatre isn't begetting good or secure code.

Opsec and AppSec usually handled by different teams :)

This sounds proportionate if a state might go after the code. For example phone encryption might be a big prize for the Chinese or even American government.

Microsoft actually hand over OS code to states regularly for certain contracts so I figure they don't need to protect most of thier code like that.

I disagree. Phone encryption should ideally be open source-able and it's security should rely as entirely on a device specific key as possible.

I think this makes more sense for a secret project (e.x. the next iPhone), but honestly as a security person it seems overkill for anything outside national security responsible code, like state sponsored malware.

I also find it strange that the code is apparently somehow accessible outside that building (see the fired comment). If this was anything beyond security theatre, it'd be on an airgapped network and that wouldn't even be a concern (as the employee wouldn't be able to access the code from their laptop). Seems excessive for very little gain.

I wouldn't take SiVal's comment as ground truth. I think it conflates rules for general employees with rules for his friend, and mixes it with a dash of unfounded hyperbole (criminal charges?).

The code isn't available outside the building unless someone takes it outside, which they make clear is not only a fireable offense but might qualify as criminal. They made it quite clear: If you're in crunch mode, don't be tempted to just take a bit of work with you to get a bit more done on the long shuttle ride.

Fair enough. I obviously don't know your friend or his project, so I can't with certainty say anything about his situation. I viewed your post through a critical lens because the details given didn't match my experience or the experience of any of my old colleagues, and you are a second-hand witness.

I am going to agree with what doctorsher said in response to your comment. I can confirm that what SiVal said is not a typical experience in Apple.

For reading, I agree, but if you're making changes it is a different story.

This has to be something very mission critical like phone encryption. No way this is the norm even at Apple.

I thought it was widely known Apple was extremely secretive, compared to the broader tech company at the very least.

> unmarked van

You may think it’s unmarked, but if you know how to spot them they’re very easy to pick out.

If I was an intelligence agency, I would do the trivially obvious thing and only use "unmarked cars" when I didn't care about being spotted, and an actual nondescript vehicle the rest of the time.

What's the difference between an "unmarked car" and a "nondescript vehicle" ?

You think the CIA would do their clandestine work on cars labeled "CIA" ?

> What's the difference between an "unmarked car" and a "nondescript vehicle" ?

Unmarked police cars often have multiple radio antennae, flexible lights, and even government plates, they simply lack explicit police markings and light bars.

Surely an unmarked van owned by Apple would have none of that?

The point is that the "unmarked" vehicle sticks out as unusual even without having "Apple" or "Police" emblazoned on its side.

Yeah, which is hosted on Azure, a data center that Microsoft owns and employs guards for, and secured behind our standard corporate authentication. :) (Source: I work at Microsoft, near the VSTS team.)

> Yeah, which is hosted on Azure, a data center that Microsoft owns and employs guards for, and secured behind our standard corporate authentication. :)

Way back when, Microsoft used to host a bunch of auth servers for banks. A friend of mine mentioned an armed guard in front of the data center for that particular service.

I've worked on teams at MS where there was a (non-armed) guard checking everyone who got off the elevator, but before I joined MS I was once left alone in a room full of computers open to the Windows source tree, wearing my "do not leave guest unattended" badge.

Mileage might vary and all that.

Yeah, all I was really saying was that the grandparent's comment and the parent's comment weren't in opposition.

Microsoft owns the data center the code lives in and certainly takes care of physical security.

The only thing a VPN would do in this case is hiding that you're even accessing VSTS and providing modest proteaction against MitM attacks. You still have to use 2FA to log in, and the code you access is still logged.

VPN puts you on corpnet. And yes, I'm well familiar with our various account protection techniques (I work on the token server) - I was calling out that some companies trust their systems enough to make it remotely accessible, not saying it's a bad thing that I could be productive on the bus ride home.

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