NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The FBI is investigating how someone hacked into the computer systems belonging to the Houston Astros, according to Major League Baseball.
The hacked databases include team secrets and operational information, so signs point to espionage from a rival team. The New York Times on Tuesday reported that the FBI is investigating “front-office officials for the St. Louis Cardinals.”
The newspaper said federal prosecutors are already issuing subpoenas on the Cardinals team and MLB to get a hold of electronic communications.
“Major League Baseball has been aware of and has fully cooperated with the federal investigation into the illegal breach of the Astros’ baseball operations database,” the league said in a statement. “Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly.”
The Cardinals have lately been the model of success in professional baseball, going to the World Series an MLB-best four times since 2004 — a year in which the team beat its then division rival Astros.
The Astros are run by general manager Jeff Luhnow, who had left the Cardinals to take the Astros job in 2011. Under Luhnow, the Astros have made a remarkable turnaround, unexpectedly leading their division and sporting one of baseball’s best records this season.
The Times reported that the hack was done by Cardinals front-office employees seeking revenge on Luhnow for leaving the team.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) June 16, 2015
A baseball team hacking into another team’s servers to steal valuable information adds a new dimension to the long list of recent cyber break-ins.
In recent years, we’ve gotten accustomed to hearing about many other types of hacks, including governments hacking each other to steal military information and criminals breaking into company computers to steal valuable data, or consumer bank accounts to steal money. In rare instances, governments even hack into company computers to destroy machines, as U.S. intelligence officials say North Korea did to Sony Pictures.
Corporate espionage has thus far gone under the radar, although cybersecurity researchers have long expected an incident to come to the forefront one day.
Computers guard all of our plans and secrets now. Hacking is just the modern version of a burglary.
“This could easily become a cyber Deflategate,” said Jay Healey, a cyber expert with the Atlantic Council, a prestigious think tank. “It does highlight the new cyber reality that everyone hacks everyone else all the time for every reason.”