Cardinals Hacking Scandal: FBI Says St. Louis Cardinals Hacked Into Houston Astros Computer System

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According to a stunning report from the New York Times, a joint investigation by the FBI and Justice Department officials has uncovered evidence that several St. Louis Cardinals front-office executives hacked into the Houston Astros’ computer network and accessed databases which contained scouting reports, confidential trade discussions, and proprietary statistics.

Government officials would not say which executives in particular were being investigated, nor would they say whether the team’s highest-ranking executives had knowledge of the hacking. Obviously, the worst-case scenario for the Cardinals and Major League Baseball would be for government officials to discover that high-ranking Cardinals executives—like, say, general manager John Mozeliak—had something to do with this. However, even if the whole thing turns out to be a case of a couple lower-level front office execs goin’ rogue, it’s still pretty historic. As far as anyone knows, this is the first documented case of corporate espionage in which one pro sports franchise hacked another pro sports franchise. And it would be a huge black eye for Major League Baseball and what has become one of the league’s model franchises.

So what exactly happened? It all started last summer when some confidential Astros information was posted anonymously online and later picked up by Deadspin. At the time nobody knew who was responsible, but people just kind of assumed it was some random third-party hacker, so Major League Baseball asked the FBI to look into it.

What the FBI discovered was that the Astros’ network has been “hacked” from the home of a Cardinals executive.

You see, Astros general manager Jeff Lunhow used to be the Cardinals VP of player development, and while he was there he and his assistants built a custom computer network to store proprietary data. After he left the Cardinals to take over as GM of the Astros, some Cardinals execs were worried he had taken their intellectual property with him. So they just went down the master list of passwords that Lunhow and his people used for the Cardinals computer network and tried them on the Astros computer network. And one of them worked.

So “hacked” might be a bit strong. “Accessed illegally” is more like it. But depending on who that executive was, this story has the potential to be huge. (And, as Deadspin points out, incredibly idiotic on all sides.)

At this point, both MLB and the Cardinals are aware of the investigation, and both have issued statements saying they will cooperate fully. However, they are waiting until the conclusion of the investigation before taking any other action—like suspending or firing anyone involved. So stay tuned.

Hat Tip – [New York Times]

Tags: controversy, hacker, Houston Astros, MLB, scandal, St. Louis Cardinals,