The Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice have uncovered evidence that executives with Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals hacked into a network maintained by its longtime rival, the Houston Astros.
Officials have yet to publically name any suspects in the investigation although they have a pretty good idea of what took place.
As The New York Times notes, Jeff Luhnow was hired by the Cardinals in 2003. Without any previous experience in baseball, Luhnow relied on his business smarts to help mold the team into one of the most revered clubs in baseball. During his stint, the Cardinals won the World Series in 2006 and again in 2011.
Luhnow created an internal database called Redbird which served as a hub for all of the organization’s baseball operations – we’re talking scouting reports, player personnel information, trade proposals, proprietary statistics and more.
He left the organization to become general manager of the Astros in December 2011. Once settled in with Houston, Luhnow created a similar – and perhaps even more sophisticated – internal program called Ground Control.
Investigators contend that Cardinals officials believed Luhnow had stolen their idea and taken inside knowledge with him to Houston. To be sure, Cardinal executives allegedly used a master list of Lunhow’s and other former Cardinal staffers’ passwords that were active before the move. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they were able to gain access to the Astros’ network.
Some of the information obtained in the breach was posted online last year although its source or how it was obtained was unknown at the time.
By all accounts, the attack would be the first case of corporate espionage involving a professional sports team hacking another. It also serves as yet another reminder why you should never use the same password to log into different accounts.
The investigation remains ongoing.
Image courtesy Julio Cortez, Associated Press