Tuesday, June 16, 2015

FBI Investigating Cardinals for Hacking Houston Astros Database, NYT Reports

Posted By on Tue, Jun 16, 2015 at 10:45 AM

click to enlarge Where's Fredbird? Is he hacking mainframes? - FLICKR VIA KEITH ALLISON
  • Flickr via Keith Allison
  • Where's Fredbird? Is he hacking mainframes?

The St. Louis Cardinals have some explaining to do.

According to the New York Times, the team that boasts the best fans in baseball is being investigated by the FBI for hacking into the Houston Astros' private database of scouting reports, personnel and transactions -- basically, the team's "collective baseball knowledge."

Subpoenas have reportedly been served to the Cardinals and Major League Baseball for electronic correspondence, but the target (or targets) of the investigation is still unclear.

Citing law enforcement officials, the NYT reports that the hacking is being attributed to "vengeful front-office employees" at the Cardinals who wanted to damage Jeff Luhnow, a former Cards executive who left the organization in 2011 when the Astros hired him as general manager.

The alleged hacking -- which officials described to the NYT as not appearing very sophisticated -- targeted the Astros' database of baseball information, called Ground Control. Luhnow built Ground Control for the Houston ballclub after pioneering a similar database with the Cardinals, called Redbird.

From the NYT story:

Investigators believe Cardinals officials, concerned that Mr. Luhnow had taken their idea and proprietary baseball information to the Astros, examined a master list of passwords used by Mr. Luhnow and the other officials who had joined the Astros when they worked for the Cardinals. The Cardinals officials are believed to have used those passwords to gain access to the Astros' network, law enforcement officials said.

...Believing that the Astros' network had been compromised by a rogue hacker, Major League Baseball notified the F.B.I., and the authorities in Houston opened an investigation. Agents soon found that the Astros' network had been entered from a computer at a home that some Cardinals officials had lived in. The agents then turned their attention to the team's front office.

"Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros' baseball operations database," said a spokesman for MLB commissioner Robert Mansfred in a statement released this morning. "Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly."

Here's the statement provided the Cardinals:

"The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security beach of the Houston Astros' database. The team has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so. Given that this is an ongoing federal investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further."

This is a breaking story, and we'll update as we know more. In the meantime, you can read the NYT story here.

Follow Danny Wicentowski on Twitter at @D_Towski. E-mail the author at Danny.Wicentowski@RiverfrontTimes.com

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