Editorial: Astros’ database hack demonstrates domestic corporate espionage

What happens when you mix a sprinkle of America’s favorite pastime with a heaping teaspoon of corporate espionage?

You create a recipe for domestic disaster.

On Monday, The New York Times broke news that FBI and Justice Department prosecutors are investigating whether the St. Louis Cardinals officials hacked the Houston Astros’ database. Cardinals officials could have used the stolen data to learn different scouting methods or to know how the franchise values certain players in trade situations. According to The Times’ report, the Cardinals likely hacked the Astros in response to Jeff Luhnow’s departure from the Cardinals to become the Astros’ general manager.

Cardinals officials might have pried into Astros’ database to determine if Luhnow had been using the Cardinals’ proprietary baseball information to aid his new organization, according to the report. However, Luhnow’s switch in jobs is no excuse for alleged spying.

The issue is much more extensive than a squabble between two baseball teams — this act of corporate espionage is a peek into what we can expect from other large domestic corporations. Cybercriminals generally operated from foreign countries in the past, but now it seems just as likely that companies are spying on one another from American soil.

If baseball teams have the audacity to poke into one another’s classified databases, then it’s equally likely that tech start-ups and other large corporate entities in the U.S. have been and will continue to hack each other’s servers.

If a baseball team can do it, there’s no doubt that a larger company can.

This brand of corporate espionage is unacceptable and a breach of confidentiality. We need to actively question this type of privacy abuse and work toward creating more secure spaces online — we cannot tolerate any domestic cybercrime, even in areas as seemingly harmless as sports.

After all, not all criminals wear orange get-ups — some of them don suits and relax behind expensive computers.