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Apple loses iPhones, seeks security experts

Apple employees lose valuable prototype iPhones and now the company appears to be looking for additional know-how in product protection.

Declan McCullagh Former Senior Writer
Declan McCullagh is the chief political correspondent for CNET. You can e-mail him or follow him on Twitter as declanm. Declan previously was a reporter for Time and the Washington bureau chief for Wired and wrote the Taking Liberties section and Other People's Money column for CBS News' Web site.
Greg Sandoval Former Staff writer
Greg Sandoval covers media and digital entertainment for CNET News. Based in New York, Sandoval is a former reporter for The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times. E-mail Greg, or follow him on Twitter at @sandoCNET.
Declan McCullagh
Greg Sandoval
2 min read

The day after CNET reported that Apple had lost control of another valuable iPhone prototype--the second misplaced prototype handset in the past 18 months--the company began looking for people to help protect unreleased products.

Click on photo to read full job description posted at Apple. Apple

David Murphy at PCmag.com made a nice catch today by noting Apple posted two job openings on Thursday for managers of "New Product Security." Maybe it's a coincidence that the positions opened up when they did, but the job descriptions certainly sound like a response to Apple's troubles of late for losing test gadgets.

"The candidate will be responsible for overseeing the protection of, and managing risks to, Apple's unreleased products and related intellectual property," said the post.

Apple representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Wednesday, the CNET report pushed the bounds of believability for some. An iPhone was taken into a San Francisco tequila bar in July by an unidentified Apple employee who somehow lost control of the device. The circumstances were strangely similar to an incident in April 2010, when another Apple employee lost an iPhone 4 prototype in a Bay Area beer garden.

Could this really happen to Apple again?

San Francisco Police confirmed on Friday that they assisted an Apple security team to search a home in the city's Bernal Heights neighborhood where Apple had electronically tracked the phone. The device wasn't found there.

While it was easy to draw parallels between those two events, there were other signs that Apple's problems went beyond iPhones. Colleague Josh Lowensohn reported last week that Apple is trying to retrieve a prototype laptop that is in the possession of Carl Frega, a North Carolina resident who said he acquired the unreleased device via a Craigslist ad. He bought the machine thinking it was only good for spare parts.

On the same day that Apple posted the job openings, an Apple store customer was given internal company media and documents by accident after taking his computer in for service in Stamford, Conn. Cult of Mac was contacted by a man who said he was given a hard drive in addition to a computer that was being repaired with the spare drive containing a backup of the store's internal file server.

This is significant because this is Apple, a company that has forged quite a reputation over the years for secret keeping and message managing. Apple execs like to spring new devices to great fanfare at very rehearsed and controlled press events. Lots of people have commented in the past week that they suspect the misplaced gadgets is thanks to some kind of Apple publicity stunt.

But the job postings last week seem to indicate that a far more plausible reason for the lost devices may be little less conspiratorial. Apple's security seems to have slipped a bit and the company is trying to correct the problem.