The FBI and the U.S. Justice Department are investigating whether St. Louis Cardinals officials hacked into the Houston Astros’ internal networks. This appears to be one of the first suspected cases of corporate espionage relating to a professional sports team hacking the database of another team.
According to numerous reports, FBI investigators appear to have uncovered evidence that the Cardinals breached the Astros’ databases, and one database in particular known as “Ground Control,” to obtain information and internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports. This information could be used for a variety of purposes including knowing what players are being scouted, the team’s scouting methods and other proprietary information of the team.
Reports also indicate that the attack may have been launched to cause problems for Astros’ general manager Jeff Luhnow, who left the Cardinals in 2011. According to some reports, the Cardinals’ officials were concerned that Luhnow may have taken the team’s proprietary information to the Astros. Speculation is that the Cardinals may have simply tried a series of passwords (Luhnow has denied that he used similar passwords while working for the two teams) until they were able to gain access to the Astros’ network. Whether true or not, this is another example of why passwords should not be recycled or used universally across different platforms and applications. Rather, users should use different passwords, mix uppercase, lower case and symbols.