To be fair, let me say that I’m a St Louis Cardinals baseball fan. I grew up a Cardinals fan, and I always love to go see the Redbirds play. Unfortunately, the Cardinals are now under federal investigation for an alleged computer hacking incident that involved their rival Houston Astros. You may not have realized that baseball was such a technology-centric operation, but the truth is that today’s professional sports teams rely heavily on technology to optimize their competitive advantage. While it’s fine to use technology to gain a competitive edge, it’s not fine to use that technology to steal confidential information about another team.
Here’s the quick background on what happened. In 2003, the St Louis Cardinals hired Jeff Luhnow, a former technology executive, to help modernize their approach to operating their organization. And Jeff didn’t disappoint. Since Luhnow’s hire in 2003, the Cardinals have made it to seven National League Championship series, won the Championship series four times, and won the World Series twice. So far this year, they have the best record in all of baseball.
In December 2011, Jeff was hired by the Houston Astros to be their general manager…a pretty big deal in major league baseball. By the way, the Astros have made a huge turnaround since Luhnow started managing their club. They went from losing over 400 games in four seasons to now sitting in first place in their division this year.
While Jeff was with the Cardinals, he built a computer network named “Redbird” and used this network to store details of their baseball operations including confidential scouting reports and personnel information. When Luhnow became the general manager of the Houston Astros, he built a network called “Ground Control” and used this network for the same purposes as the Redbird network in St Louis. The FBI recently discovered that the Ground Control network had been accessed by a computer used at the home of a Cardinals employee. Some have speculated that Luhnow used the same type of hardware, software, configurations, etc when building Ground Control as he did when he built Redbird. Maybe that’s how the Cardinals employee was able to hack the Ground Control network and steal confidential information about the operations of the Houston Astros.
Here’s the deal…even if you know how to access someone else’s network, you should do the right thing and stay out of the areas you don’t belong.
As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing.”
But, of course, not everyone follows the ethical path. And we will always have to deal with people who steal from others. That’s why security is so important for any person or organization.
I’m very disappointed that someone in the Cardinals organization would steal information from another team, but I’m also confident that the Cardinals will find who did it and take the necessary steps to ensure that person never does it again.