Cardinals Caught in a Pickle after Alleged Astros Hack

Cyber crime history in the making

Yesterday, the NY Times broke the story of the ongoing investigation by the F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors into the possible hacking of a Houston Astros internal network by St. Louis Cardinals staff. This hack, if proven, marks the first-ever cyber attack by a professional sports team (or at least the first that’s been caught).

Let’s look at the communications coming from the major players in this one:

Cardinals’ statement:

“The St. Louis Cardinals are aware of the investigation into the security breach of the Houston Astros’ database. The team has fully cooperated with the investigation and will continue to do  so. Given that this is an ongoing federal investigation, it is not appropriate for us to comment further.”

The Astros have been going with a simple, “we are actively cooperating with an ongoing federal investigation and cannot comment on the matter,”

While the MLB left us feeling deja-vu:

“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. Once the investigative process has been completed by federal law enforcement officials, we will evaluate the next steps and will make decisions promptly.”

Yep, with a federal probe underway we won’t be hearing much from the parties involved, at least not from the accused. The Cards look about as bad as they possibly could right now and the court of public opinion is well on its way to passing a swift judgement, making the Astros’ best course of action to lie low and let the process play out.

As far as crisis management suggestions for the Cardinals organization, establishing new guidelines in its code of ethics that apply specifically to respecting the intellectual property of others would be a good start. But first we wait to see which heads are going to roll, because in a crisis like this you’re really left with no other option.

Oh, and one other note – change your passwords people! Astros GM Jeff Luhnow was formerly a Cardinals exec, and investigators believe whoever was responsible for the breach simply went down the list of passwords from his time there to gain access to the Astros’ proprietary systems.

Erik & Jonathan Bernstein
www.bernsteincrisismanagement.com

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