The Cardinals are Either Horrible or Super l33t Hackers

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The St. Louis Cardinals have been in the news lately because they have the best record in MLB…and there was this little “hacking” story.

NYTimes: “Cardinals Investigated for Hacking Into Astros’ Database”:

Investigators have uncovered evidence that Cardinals employees broke into a network of the Astros that housed special databases the team had built, law enforcement officials said. Internal discussions about trades, proprietary statistics and scouting reports were compromised, said the officials, who were not authorized to discuss a continuing investigation.

St. Louis, baseball, computers, and sorta stupid with people freaking out?! This is my dream story! Why oh why couldn’t this have happened while I was still in St. Louis writing Punching Kitty?! This is my wheelhouse! It’s like my old blog became sentient and birthed it’s own perfect story in an effort to get me back to the old trusty Wordpress writing screen and we could be together again. My blog would be so happy, but alas it’s not to be. I’m going to write up my thoughts on this, my new blog. I have no doubt that after this half-successful attempt the now sentient Punching Kitty.com will have no choice but to go a more direct route and lure me to a van with promises of free sandwiches and then chloroform me when I peer in to the dark van interior. “Wait, where’s my sandwich? Urggumffff…” will be my last words for days until I wake up in a warehouse in St. Louis with nothing but a crappy laptop on a rickety table and a single lightbulb swinging above me. I’ll then spend days writing out story after story, dick joke after dick joke, catching up on Ferguson, Cardinals and “Gee it sure is hot!” stories. Finally I’ll try to do that trick from “Misery” where I ask for different paper but that won’t work because who the hell uses paper. Then…um…a local sheriff will get murdered when he stumbles upon my captivity and…um…well…maybe I’ll slip away during one of the many subsequent well meaning protests done by a crap load of white people from St. Charles County because they don’t understand how a blog killed a cop and figure it must be a black thing somehow.

Yeah, OK. I think I took that as far as it could go. Lets talk about the Cardinals again!

There are really three major responses to the Cardinals “hacking” story and it might make sense to just run through each of them, but first a short digression on why I keep putting “hacking” in quotes. It’s not because I’m a Cardinals fan that thinks this story is silly or doesn’t matter. It’s just that, as a computer professional, I hate how lame the word hacking has become. Guessing someone’s password isn’t “hacking.” That particular hack would be called, using industry terms, “guessing someone’s password.”

1. The Cardinals are an evil hacking empire!

Did the Cardinals hack other teams? If they broke in to the Astro’s system by using an old password, then no they probably didn’t…or maybe that “Everyone write your password down and give it to the Cardinals” game they play at the annual General Manager Meetings should really get canceled.

2. The Cardinals are so stupid! Don’t they have better a technical staff than this?!

If you believe the team orchestrated this “hack” then yes that would be really really stupid, but there’s no sign of the attacking being coordinated by upper management. If you believe that some low level stats or tech staff did this on their own, then yeah, they should have done a better job because apparently they didn’t even use TOR correctly. However, my theory is that a bunch of of the tech team were sitting around the Spring Training house and someone said “I wonder if Jeff still uses the same password.” and then another person muted the TV and said “Let’s try!” so they thought just long enough to decide to use Tor and then gave it a shot…and holy crap it worked! This of course doesn’t mean what they did was wrong and stupid and lame, but it might explain why they didn’t setup Tor correctly or bother to bounce through a few foreign proxies.

3. Ha! Screw the Cardinals.

Ok. When you win and when people write weird missives about how perfect Christian baseball angels all of the Cardinals are after years of having Tony LaRussa beat your team down with sunglasses on at 10p then I don’t blame you for waiting for a time to pounce and then roll around in the collective Cardinal misery and really grind it in to your butt crack. Sink down in to it like a giant bowl of schadenfreude-flavored pudding.

What’s next for the Cardinals?

Well the FBI might eventually name someone but it will only be a guess and that person will be fired and the rest of the people that were tangentially involved will finally read the whole article on how Tor works. I also know that there will be 30 new Sr. VP of Technical Security job postings for across all MLB teams. Lastly, the Cardinals will hear about this all the time but I doubt much will come of it long term. The only impact I’m concerned about is if other teams will be less likely to deal with the Cardinals during this or subsequent trade seasons. Lets hope John Mozeliak is as respected as we hear he is. We need a SP and a bench upgrade!