Relationships are everything in security

Executives for the St. Louis Cardinals, one of the most successful franchises in Major League Baseball history, are under investigation by the F.B.I. and Justice Department prosecutors. The front-office personnel are accused of hacking into an internal network of the Houston Astros to steal information.

The accused hacking illustrates several pain points that enterprises across the world deal with on a daily basis.

First, it’s not about money. The hackers were allegedly after information, such as trade discussions, proprietary statistics and scouting reports containing confidential information about players. For hackers and competitors willing to cheat, it’s not always about money. The end goal can be information and to get that information, they’ll need access.

Secondly, this wasn’t a complex algorithm or experienced hack. By examining a master list of passwords to which they had direct access, Cardinals executives were able to gain entry to the Astros’ system. It’s cybercriminal day-trading, essentially. Every day cybercriminals test passwords on websites like Amazon, banking sites and more to see what access they can achieve.

The bigger lesson that the IT security field can take away from this incident is about relationships and how dynamic they are. We’ve written past blogs highlighting how the average employee stays at a company for just over four years and on the way out, could be inclined to take confidential information. This, however, was a differenent circumstance. In this instance, it was all was about the relationship.

Law enforcement officials believe the breach was executed by Cardinals’ front-office employees hoping to attack and damage Astros’ General Manager Jeff Luhnow, who was previously employed by the Cardinals until 2011. In a New York Times’ article regarding the incident, Luhnow is described as “polarizing.”

We’ve all been there. Colleagues can get under our skin for a variety of reasons, whether it be their success or total apathy. In a highly competitive sport on the world stage, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the Cardinals tried to gain an edge with a little revenge on top.

It’s all about relationships.