Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

FBI Targets Cardinals for Astros Hack

Baseball is a game known for keeping its numbers sacred. And after the statistical revolution of the past couple decades, teams hold the data they keep on players with the utmost secrecy.

Well, almost utmost.

The FBI is now investigating members of the St. Louis Cardinals organization for hacking into a proprietary player database kept by the Houston Astros. As details emerge, this was hack was more 8th grade prankster than sophisticated IRS data thieves, so let's take a look at some of the highlights:

What Was Hacked?

"Ground Control," the Astros' computer network designed to store and analyze all of their baseball operations information. The system was created by general manager Jeff Luhnow, who built a similar system, called "Redbird," for the Cardinals during his time in St. Louis.

Who Hacked It?

As yet unnamed "Cardinals officials," allegedly "from a computer at a home that some Cardinals officials had lived in." The FBI has subpoenaed the team and Major League Baseball to gather more specific information, but the pool of possible hackers would seem rather small at this point. (Depending on the size of the house, of course.)

How Was It Hacked?

In the most unskilled way imaginable. Not only did the hackers attack from their own home, they accessed the database using Luhnow's own password, which he failed to change when he changed jobs. Sure, keeping track of multiple passwords is hard, and storing them all in a system isn't always safe, but come on people -- act like you've been on the Internet before.

Who'll Punish the Hackers?

MLB or the FBI or both. According to The Legal Blitz, the league has several disciplinary options at its disposal, including $2 million fines, player and team official suspensions, and "such other actions as the Commissioner may deem appropriate." But it's the FBI with the real heavy hammer: the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act makes accessing a protected computer without authorization punishable by hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and five years in prison per offense.

At this point, it's unknown how many officials are involved and how many times they accessed the Astros' Ground Control. But right now, things don't look good for the Redbirds.

Follow FindLaw for Consumers on Facebook and Twitter (@FindLawConsumer).

Related Resources: