HOUSTON – Houston Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow says the notion that poor password protection is to blame for a computer hack of his team’s player database is “absolutely false.”
The FBI is investigating whether employees of the St. Louis Cardinals broke into the database. Some material was posted online a year ago, and the Cardinals and Astros have both said they are cooperating with the authorities.
Luhnow headed the Cardinals’ scouting and player development department before he was hired by the Astros in December 2011. Luhnow worked at technology firm Archetype Solutions Inc. before his stint in baseball, and he was asked about the theory that hackers could access Houston’s system because he didn’t change passwords.
“That’s absolutely false,” Luhnow told Sports Illustrated. “I absolutely know about password hygiene and best practices. I’m certainly aware of how important passwords are, as well as of the importance of keeping them updated. A lot of my job in baseball, as it was in high tech, is to make sure that intellectual property is protected. I take that seriously and hold myself and those who work for me to a very high standard.”
He also denied he used any of the Cardinals’ intellectual property or information from the Cardinals’ database called Redbird to create Houston’s database, which they call Ground Control.
“I’m very aware of intellectual property and the agreements I signed,” Luhnow told SI. “I didn’t take anything, any proprietary information. Nor have we ever received any inquiries from anybody that even suggested that we had.”
Luhnow, 49, said he remains on good terms with the Cardinals and scoffed at the idea the hacking was intended as some kind of revenge. He also said it doesn’t make sense to think that old information from one team could help another team.
“If you were to take a snapshot of the database of one team, within a month it would not be useful anymore, because things change so quickly,” he told SI.