Major League Baseball will not investigate allegations that Cardinals’ front office personnel illegally hacked Houston Astros’ databases until the federal investigation has been completed, according to recent reports. Rob Manfred said the FBI and Justice Department had informed the Commissioner’s office aware of the investigation’s timetable and movement, but of few specifics.
The incident is unprecedented for baseball and sports in general. It is an entirely different incident than the New England Patriot’s exploits of stealing plays and deflating NFL footballs. And it should have been totally expected. Cheating has been a part of baseball for a very long time. “Cheating is baseball’s oldest profession. No other game is so rich in skulduggery, so suited to it or so proud of it,” wrote sports columnist Thomas Boswell. Whether it’s the long list of game fixing incidents, steroids or amphetamines, baseball players tend to agree: cheating is a part of the game. Just don’t get caught. So that’s why the hacking scandal should come as no surprise although it should raise the concern of sports franchises everywhere who use the Internet.
Analytics and their databases have become a major part of baseball and sports. The so-called Moneyball era has made statistics king and analytical minds (and thus software) a premium in baseball and sports generally. Advanced baseball theory today views every action in a game as a bit of data waiting to be analyzed and then stored in a database. If sports history is any indicator, access to the databases of analytics is highly desirable. That’s why the recent Cardinals-Astros hacking scandal has major implications. As Will Leitch writes for NY Mag in an article entitled, “The Sports World Enters The Surveillance Era”:
The Astros’ central database is so advanced, so critical to the team’s sense of organizational direction, that management has given it a code name: “Ground Control.” The system contains “the repository of all our baseball knowledge,” as Luhnow put it to Joshua Green of Bloomberg; every bit of information the Astros had was funneled to Ground Control
As to what led to the breaches of the Astros’ databases, the public cannot be sure. The Houston Astros reported numerous breaches of their baseball operations database dating back to March 2014. The FBI zoomed in on the Cardinals’ front office. One breach originated in a condo in Jupiter, Florida leased by numerous members of the Cardinals’ baseball operations staff.
Rumors have it that it could have been old personnel who worked for the Cardinals, and left for the Astros, used the same passwords with his new team as he did his old team. Interns and low-level employees, according to the Cardinals, then got the idea to access the database in what would be a simple social engineering hack. But answers are still forthcoming. The Cardinals fired scouting director Chris Correa weeks after he was in charge of the club’s amateur draft earlier this summer, giving no reason for the firing. Multiple sources said this was the club’s response upon discovering Correa’s involvement in at least one breach.
“Unfortunately, I don’t think this is a next-few-days resolution,” Manfred said. “We have regular contact with them in terms of progress, when they expect to be finished, those sorts of things. But they are not sharing with us all of the information they have from their investigation. We decided the most appropriate course is to let them finish that investigation and delay any action until that process has been completed.”
“With respect to this incident, you have to begin with the understanding that this is not our investigation,” Manfred told members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
It’s an investigation that is being conducted by the FBI and the U.S. Attorney. We have regular contact with them in terms of progress, when they expect to be finished, those sorts of things.But they are not sharing with us all of the information that they have in the investigation. It simply would not be appropriate for them to do that.
The FBI and the US attorney have yet to file charges, nor have they commented. The Justice Department could charge individuals in the hacking, and the Cardinals could be penalized by Major League Baseball, with Cardinals Chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. looking into an internal action.
Whatever the result of the investigations, the damage has been done. Hacked published a guide on how to create a secure password that perhaps some of the old brass in baseball and sports generally should read. Baseball is not alone with its cloud security concerns. The 2015 Black Hat Asia Conference focused on cloud security earlier this year. Cloud security evolves quickly, with some projects even attempting block chain cloud schemes, such as Storj.io.
Images from Shutterstock and Cardinals.
Uber Is Paying Hackers to Keep Quiet
Uber Technologies Inc. has reportedly paid hackers to delete scores of private data stolen from the company in a security breach that was concealed for over a year. The revelation provides further confirmation that, when it comes to cyber security, crime does pay.
Massive Data Breach
According to Bloomberg Technology, hackers retrieved the personal data of 57 million Uber customers and drivers at some point last year. Nobody heard about it because the rideshare company paid the hackers $100,000 to keep quiet. A purge at the front office of Uber also ensured that the massive cyber breach was kept under wraps.
The compromised data was from October 2016 and included the names, phone numbers and addressed of 50 million Uber riders globally. About seven million drivers had their personal information accessed as well.
At the time of the cyber attack, Uber was inundated with a slew of legal issues stemming from alleged privacy violations. Rather than shine even more negative spotlight on the company, Uber executives decided to pay hackers to stay quiet.
“None of this should have happened, and I will not make excuses for it,” Dara Khosrowshahi, who took over as CEO in September, said in a statement that was published by Bloomberg. “We are changing the way we do business.”
Hackers have done a masterful job infiltrating companies and governments in recent years. As a reminder, recent cyber attacks levied against Yahoo!, Target Corp and Equifax Inc. dwarf Uber’s 57 million compromised accounts.
Various reports indicate that cyber attacks are bleeding the global economy dry. One report, issued by the World Economic Forum, suggests that cyber crime cost the world economy $445 billion in 2016. If cyber crime were its own market cap, it would exceed Microsoft Inc., Facebook Inc. and ExxonMobil Corp
The Fall of Uber?
Uber revolutionized the ride-hailing business over the span of seven years by giving more power to the consumer. Several missteps later, the company finds itself in legal hot water, with its future appearing less certain than it did just one year ago.
The rideshare company faces at least five U.S. probes ranging from bribes to illicit software and right up to unethical pricing schemes. According to another Bloomberg report, Uber is under investigation for violating price transparency regulations, not to mention the alleged theft of documents for Google’s autonomous cars.
Some governments are sensing weakness in the ride-hailing service, and are moving toward banning the Uber app entirely. London is the most prominent example of a city that has taken definitive steps to outlaw the service over a “lack of corporate responsibility.”
Even with its legal troubles, Uber is a revolutionary technology that has influenced a bevy of other innovations aimed at improving the human experience.
Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.
The Pirate Bay is Hijacking PCs to Stealth-Mine Cryptocurrency
For the second time in as many months, The Pirate Bay has been caught mining cryptocurrency on your computer without consent. The torrent platform was actually test-driving cryptocurrency mining in your browser – no doubt a lucrative revenue stream.
The Pirates Are At It Again
The news was later confirmed by Bleeping Computer, which reported that,”The Pirate Bay, the internet’s largest torrent portal, is back at running a cryptocurrency miner after it previously ran a short test in mid-September.”
Estimates indicate that the scheme has earned the pirates a total of $43,000 over a three-week period.
Users had no way to opt their computers out of being test-driven by the torrent network. Back in September, The Pirate Bay got away by telling people it was just a test. The site’s owners cannot use the same excuse this time around.
CoinHive advises websites to let their visitors know their browser is being used to mine cryptocurrency.
“We’re a bit saddened to see that some of our customers integrate CoinHive into their pages without disclosing to their users what’s going on, let alone asking for their permission,” the company said.
The good news is most ad-blockers and antivirus programs will block CoinHive, given its recent abuses. That means not all visitors of The Pirate Pay were being used as a conduit for mining Monero.
Monero Joins Global Crypto Rally
The value of Monero (XMR) shot up nearly 8% on Friday, and was last seen trading at $94.17. With more than 15.2 million XMR tokens in circulation, the total market cap for Monero is $1.4 billion, according to CoinMarketCap. That’s enough for ninth on the global cryptocurrency list.
Twelve cryptos have now crossed the $1 billion valuation mark. A handful of others have made their way north of $500 million.
Ethereum Notches Two-Month High as Bitcoin Offspring Triggers Volatility
Digital currency Ethereum climbed to a two-month high on Monday, taking some of the heat off Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash, which have slumped since the weekend.
Ethereum Forges Higher Path
Concerns over Bitcoin created a favourable tailwind for Ethereum (ETH/USD), which is the world’s No. 2 digital currency by total assets. Ether’s price topped $340.00 on Monday and later settled at $323.54. That was the highest since June 20.
At its peak, ether was up 10% on the day and 70% for the month of August.
The ETH/USD was last down 2.2% at $315.02, according to Bitfinex. Prices are due for a brisk recovery, based on the daily momentum indicators.
Fractured Bitcoin Community
Bitcoin and its offshoot, Bitcoin Cash, retreated on Monday following a volatile weekend. The BTC/USD slumped at the start of the week and was down more than 3% on Tuesday, with prices falling below $3,900.00. Just last week, Bitcoin was trading at new records near $4,500.00.
Bitcoin Cash, which emerged after the Aug. 1 hard fork, climbed to new records on Saturday, but has been in free-fall ever since. The BTH was down another 20% on Tuesday to $594.49, according to CoinMarketCap. Its total market value has dropped by several billion over the past two days.
Analysts say that a “fractured” Bitcoin community has made Ethereum a more attractive bet this week. The ether token has shown remarkable poise over the past seven days, despite trading well shy of a new record.
Other drivers behind Ethereum’s advance are steady demand from South Korean investors and growing confidence in a smooth upgrade for the the ETH network. The upgrade, which has been dubbed “Metropolis,” is expected in the next several weeks. Its key benefits include tighter transaction privacy and greater efficiency.
Ethereum Prices Unaffected by ICO Heist
Fin-tech developer Enigma was on the receiving end of a cyber-heist on Monday after hackers took over the company’s website, mailing list and instant messaging platforms. The hack occurred three weeks before Enigma’s planned Initial Coin Offering (ICO) for September 11.
In addition to defacing the company’s website, the hackers pushed a special “pre-sale” ahead of the ICO. While many users realized it was a scam, 1,492 ether tokens – valued at $495,000 – were directed into the hackers’ cryptocurrency wallet by unsuspecting backers.
The irony in all this is that Engima is a cryptography company that prides itself on top-notch security protocols. The company issued a statement that its servers had not been compromised.
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