During last year's winning season, baseball's Detroit Tigers got proactive in defending their IT security network, reports Dan Kaplan.

It was sometime around the All-Star Break last summer, with baseball's Detroit Tigers resting comfortably on top of the AL Central Division and the playoffs in sight, that Scott Wruble decided he had better start preparing for a throng of media that was sure to converge on Comerica Park come October.

Wruble, the director of IT for the Tigers, and his small staff — roughly the size of the team's starting outfield — began negotiations to implement a DS3 internet connection. He and his team expected that 500 to 600 media personnel (and their potentially unguarded laptops) would attend each playoff game, five times the normal contingent of writers, broadcasters and photographers.

To support the additional network capacity, the Tigers also deployed Lancope's StealthWatch M250 network intrusion solution to monitor for malware and unnecessary peer-to-peer file sharing — two culprits that potentially could grind a VLAN (virtual local area network) to a halt. Both products began running at the end of September, a few days before the playoffs started.

“We wanted to put technology in place that would isolate people and head off disruptions that would cause us issues,” Wruble says. “Our main goal is not to be in the press because we have bad internet connections. That's something we've found the press will gripe about.”

After victories in the division and league championship series, the underdog Tigers wound up losing the World Series in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals, ending their improbable yet valiant run at immortality.

But Wruble and his team, whose network used to rely on a cable modem for connectivity and manual troubleshooting for problems (in a way mirroring the years of struggle by the Tigers on the field), declared victory.

Wruble and Jim Darrow, director of technical services for Ilitch Holdings, parent of the Tigers, say they only encountered a few minor incidents throughout the playoffs, but nothing that led to the network being compromised — a far cry from the problems that faced Comerica Park when it hosted the All-Star Game 2005.

“During the playoffs, we had a few viruses, and a couple of people wanted to set up their own access points,” Wruble says.