FBI, Justice Department investigate Cardinals in Astros hack

The MLB, Houston Astros, and St. Louis Cardinals are cooperating in the federal investigation.
The MLB, Houston Astros, and St. Louis Cardinals are cooperating in the federal investigation.

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating whether employees with the St. Louis Cardinals are responsible for hacking into and stealing information from computer systems belonging to the Houston Astros, a Tuesday report posted to the Major League Baseball (MLB) website said.

The Astros – as well as MLB – are cooperating in the investigation, but the team is not commenting further on the matter, the report indicated. The Cardinals are also cooperating, the team said in a message posted to its own website.

“The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security breach of the Houston Astros' database,” the message said. “The team has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do so. Given that this is an ongoing federal investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further.”

Nearly a year has passed since the Astros announced that an unauthorized third party, or parties, obtained private information stored on its servers and in its applications. Some of the information – which included conversations with other ball clubs – was posted publicly online.

The New York Times broke the news on Tuesday that employees with the Cardinals were being investigated, and law enforcement believes that front-office officials – out for revenge against Jeff Luhnow, former Cardinals executive and current Astros general manager – may have been responsible.

According to the New York Times report, law enforcement discovered that the Astros network was accessed from a computer at a home where Cardinals officials were living. Law enforcement believes that the culprits used a list of passwords belonging to Luhnow and other officials during their time with the Cardinals in order to access the Astros network.

Ken Westin, security analyst with Tripwire, in a statement emailed to SCMagazine.com on Tuesday, noted how hacking is not always about stealing credit cards, but can also be about stealing information to gain a competitive edge.

“We have increasingly seen this behavior in business where hackers steal and sell information to competitors or investors to give them an edge,” Westin said. “A baseball team hacking another team is a logical extension of this type of attack, as it is in the end a business as well with high financial stakes.”

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