Even if you're not a fan of baseball, you're probably heard about the F.B.I. investigation into the breach of the Houston Astros' database, allegedly at the hands of staff members of the St. Louis Cardinals. And while sports news doesn't usually warrant the kind of coverage that is usually afforded to politics or world affairs, this story has considerable implications when we consider baseball as business. Since baseball was first played competitively, teams have been trying to get an edge on their opponents. Whether it's stealing signs or doctoring balls, teams are often comfortable operating in the gray area of the rules to get ahead.
The case of the Astros, however, crosses the line from the sort of winking, boys-will-be-boys cheating that is generally accepted within the game, into the much more serious corporate espionage that draws the attention of the federal government. The potential breach of the Astros system first came to light last year, when Deadspin reported on a leak of internal communications posted to the site Anonbin. The leak contained the club's discussions on potential trades and negotiations with other organizations. And while it may be fascinating as a baseball fan to see the day-to-day minutiae that goes into making a trade, it represents a serious violation of a business' security.
What makes the story even more compelling is the role played by the Astros' general manager, Jeff Luhnow. Before taking his current position with the Astros, Luhnow worked in the Cardinals' front office and helped develop their proprietary database, known as Redbird. Upon taking the Astros job, he set about developing a similar database, this one called Ground Control. The Cardinals had privately grumbled about the Astros database and the possibility that Luhnow had taken some of their intellectual property to Texas with him. Where the matter takes a comical yet still serious turn is in how the Cardinals were allegedly able to break into the Astros database; apparently, Luhnow left a list of passwords at his old job, passwords that are (or were) used in the Astros system as well. Cardinals personnel didn't hack Ground Control so much as the Astros so much as they were left the keys to the front door, though easy access doesn't lessen the illegality of the Cardinals' alleged actions.
While this might seem to be a rather inconsequential story, given that it involves a business predicated on hitting balls with sticks, it highlights a very real concern for businesses in every sector. Data security should be an area of concern for any business that is storing information that is remotely accessible, which is almost all of them in this age. That's why Traklight offers our secure IP Vault with 256-bit encryption to allow entrepreneurs and businesses to securely store any sensitive information and share it with advisors or other trusted professionals. Don't strike out on keeping your information safe.