The St. Louis Cardinals are being investigated by the FBI and the Justice Department for allegedly hacking into the internal network of one of their rival teams, the Houston Astros.
Investigators have found evidence that someone in the front office of the Cardinals broke into the Astros network, which held sensitive information. Officials say that trade discussions, scouting reports and proprietary statistics were revealed through the hack.
The hacking is the first known instance of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team hacks a rival team’s network.
The Astros first discovered that their network was compromised in June 2014, when confidential information was leaked on the internet regarding internal trade talks. Shortly after, they began working with the FBI and the MLB security to figure out who the hacker was.
It is still unknown who is responsible for the hack, but top executives have been cleared of any involvement. The firm Dowd Bennett was hired several months ago when the Cardinals were made aware of the allegations. According to the New York Times, Jim Martin, a lawyer from the firm, conducted a review and said, “With what we have done so far, I am 100 percent confident that this does not touch upper management.”
Jeff Luhnow, the General Manager of the Astros, has been under scrutiny for the data breach. He was previously a General Manager at the Cardinals, at the time when they built a new internal network named “Redbird,” which had extremely sensitive information in it. He left the Cardinals after the 2011 season and took front office personnel with him to join the Astros. They ended up creating a similar network, titled “Groundwork.”
The FBI believes that the Cardinals were able to access the Astros’ network by using passwords that were associated with Luhnow during his tenure with the Cardinals.
Luhrow has denied that his passwords are the same as they were when he was with the Cardinals, telling Sports Illustrated “that’s absolutely false…I absolutely know about password hygiene and best practices. I’m certainly aware of how important passwords are, as well as of the importance of keeping them updated. A lot of my job in baseball, as it was in high-tech, is to make sure that intellectual property is protected. I take that seriously and hold myself and those who work for me to a very high standard.”