The Cardinals are under investigation for allegedly hacking into the Astros’ Ground Control database. Details are now emerging about the incident, reports Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle. One expert termed the hacking as “unauthorized intrusion” rather than a sophisticated attack. The legal definition of hack does include unauthorized intrusion, but no advanced techniques were used to access the Astros database.
It’s thought that one of Jeff Luhnow, Sig Mejdal, or Mike Elias did not properly update their passwords after moving from the Cardinals to the Astros. The access occurred as a result of password guessing, says Drellich. “Possibly with well-educated guesses.”
As you might have intuited, the security for the Ground Control database was below industry standards. Anybody could access the log-in page via groundcontrol.astros.com and a password. This is referred to as single-factor authentication. Houston has since moved the database to a virtual private network (VPN). It reportedly now has two-factor authentication which is more secure.
At least one of the three breaches was done by somebody using Tor, an “anonymity network” meant to hide the activities and location of its users. While the article doesn’t mention it, there is a freely available browser-based front end to access the Tor network.
In other news, the Cardinals brand has been “tarnished” by the scandal, but economic damage should be minimal according to the Associated Press. Primary revenue streams like fan attendance and television network payments will be unaffected by the crime. Sponsors have not backed away from the Cardinals according to a spokesman for FOX Sports Midwest.
Taking the other perspective, Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch elaborated on the Cardinals back story. Luhnow was hired by Cardinals chairman Bill Dewitt Jr. in 2003 to bring St. Louis into the sabermetric revolution. Luhnow was in large part responsible for building the group that is now under investigation. The team’s analytical efforts yielded excellent results like the selection of first baseman Matt Adams in the 23rd round. The article provides many other great anecdotes about St Louis’ move into the information age.