Who’s on first?

Maybe it was only a matter of time. Hacking can be a risky venture, but with the potential of big rewards. And when there’s already big money at stake – like in the world of professional baseball – it makes sense that somebody would try to use technology to gain an edge. As the Washington Post reports:

St. Louis Cardinals under investigation by FBI in hack of Houston Astros

Some detail:

The FBI and Justice Department are investigating members of the front office of the St. Louis Cardinals to determine whether the organization hacked the computer network of the Houston Astros in order to steal player personnel information.

An investigation is “ongoing,” a federal law enforcement official told The Post’s Ellen Nakashima. There’s “a lot of work going into” the investigation, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the probe is underway.

Generally speaking, officials and experts say, the tools to hack someone else’s network are readily available online. “By itself, it doesn’t represent anything illegal,” the official said. But once a person intrudes into another person’s computer system without permission, “you’ve crossed the magical line,” the official said. Accessing someone’s computer without authorization is a federal crime under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

This is the first suspected case of corporate espionage in which a professional sports team has allegedly hacked the network of another team, according to the New York Times, which first reported the investigation.

And some context:

How serious is a cybersecurity breach in a sport with a rich history of stolen signs, illegal pitches and corked bats? An executive with another team, who asked to remain anonymous because of the ongoing investigation, told The Post that such a breach would be taken extremely seriously.

“There’s so much proprietary analysis, and the teams that do this sort of thing each have their own magic, secret formula for how they evaluate players, people, systems – all kinds of things,” the executive said. “For another team to have that, for whatever their purposes, is an unbelievable advantage for the other team.”

Fascinating. It does seem that many big businesses do not take cyber security seriously. Perhaps more stories like this will change that attitude.

[First seen at the BBC.]