The Cardinals Are Being Investigated for Hacking the Astros Player Database

The St. Louis Cardinals are under investigation for hacking into the Houston Astros proprietary network known as "Ground Control."

by Sean Newell
Jun 16 2015, 3:44pm

Corporate espionage has entered professional sports, and it is baseball's Shining City on a Hill that got the ball rolling. Last year, an internal network created by the Houston Astros to house various databases containing the sum total of the organization's baseball information was hacked, and 10 months of information was anonymously posted online for the world to see. The network, known as "Ground Control" was created after Jeff Luhnow left the St. Louis Cardinals to become the general manager of the Astros. According to the New York Times, several members of the Cardinals front office are now under investigation for hacking the Astros proprietary network.

Luhnow had a rocky past with the Cardinals and, according to the Times' sources, it is believed former colleagues in St. Louis went after the information as a sort of revenge play against him. There also appeared to be a concern that Luhnow took information from the Cardinals' own network, "Redbird", and used it when he began working for Houston.

The hacking was not particularly difficult it; this was not a bunch of computer whizzes pounding out code to crack the system. They just figured out what passwords Luhnow might have used, and apparently it worked.

The intrusion did not appear to be sophisticated, the law enforcement officials said. When Mr. Luhnow was with the Cardinals, the organization built a computer network, called Redbird, to house all of their baseball operations information — including scouting reports and player personnel information. After leaving to join the Astros, and bringing some front-office personnel with him from the Cardinals, Houston created a similar program known as Ground Control.
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.

Major League Baseball alerted the FBI to the incident and has cooperated with the investigation. The Cardinals are also aware. However, the best employees in baseball under investigation have not as of yet been disciplined or placed on leave.

[New York Times]