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Stealing (data) bases? St. Louis Cardinals may have hacked Houston Astros

June 16, 2015, 4:49 PM UTC
Kansas City Royals v Houston Astros
HOUSTON - MAY 22: Jeff Luhnow, general manager of the Houston Astros, watches batting practice before the Houston Astros play the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park on May 22, 2013 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Photograph by Bob Levey — Getty Images

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is reportedly probing whether the St. Louis Cardinals breached the computer systems of rival team the Houston Astros in order to abscond with protected, proprietary information about players, statistics, and internal deliberations.

“The attack represents the first known case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team has hacked the network of another team,” according to a report in The New York Times.

The alleged network intrusion appears to have been unsophisticated, said law enforcement officials cited by the newspaper. The investigators believe that the apparent compromise resulted from Cardinals front office officials accessing Astros’ general manager (and former Cardinals’ executive) Jeff Luhnow’s team databases.

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.

The investigation was launched after the Major League Baseball alerted the FBI following a leak of information last year, the Times said. The investigators subsequently traced the hack to a computer on the premises of a residence that was at one time occupied by Cardinals officials. Subpoenas for Cardinals and MLB communications have already been issued.