Tuesday, April 4, 2017

St. Louis Cardinals: Hacking of the Houston Astros Database (2013)

The Case
     The St. Louis Cardinals are a Major League Baseball team that play in the National League.  The team has a long and successful history stretching back to the 19th century with a total of 13 division titles, 19 National League pennants, and 11 World Series titles.  The Houston Astros are also a Major League Baseball team that plays in the American League.  A relatively new team to the MLB, they have six division titles and one National League pennant.  For most of their tenure in the MLB, they played in the National League along with the Cardinals but have just recently moved to the American League in 2013.  Right around this time, in June of 2014, the Houston Astros reported a data breach of servers which resulted in a leak of months of internal trade talks.  The leak was first reported by the Astros' General Manager Jeff Luhnow, a former Cardinal's employee.  Luhnow started in St. Louis as the vice president of baseball development and had worked his way up to the head of scouting and player development for the Cardinals organization.  Luhnow was critical in getting players that helped win the Cardinals a World Series in 2011 and after that season the Astros wanted him for their GM position taking several Cardinals employees with him.  An official F.B.I investigation was started in wake of the 2014 breach.  By 2015 it was announced that the Cardinals were being looked into.  The F.B.I was investigating the St. Louis Cardinals organization to see if current employees were involved the hack.  What they found was that Cardinals officials hacked the database housing all the player information for the Houston Astros.  Cardinals chairman Bill
Chris Correa:  Former Scouting Director for the Cardinals
DeWitt issued a statement saying the Cardinals had nothing to do with the breach and it was carried out by a group of rogue individuals.  In the end, only one employee was found at fault, Chris Correa, the the scouting director for the Cardinals.

     Correa was able to get into the database by guessing a similar password that was used by a former Cardinals employee that now works for the Astros.  It is still unclear at this time who's password Correa used but he may have had access to the database after the 2011 season, when Luhnow left for the Astros job.  Correa had access to their passwords because when these employees left they had to turn in their team-issued laptops.  These laptops were returned at the time to Correa who was in charge of wiping them for re-purposing.  The former employees had to leave their passwords so Correa could get in.  Correa was promptly fired and soon after placed in custody.  Authorities say Correa, "hacked the email system and was able to view 118 pages of confidential information, including notes of trade discussions, player evaluations and a 2014 team draft board that had not yet been completed." (ESPN, 2016)  Correa accessed the Astros database five times from 2013 to 2014 and improperly downloaded several files but may have accessed the database more than five times.  In January of 2016 Correa plead guilty to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer.  In July of 2016 he was sentenced to 46 months in prison and fined $280,000.  He had originally faced five years for each individual charge and began serving his time 6 weeks from sentencing.  Once the trial had concluded, Rob Manfred, commissioner of Major League Baseball, handed down a punishment.  The Cardinals would be fined 2 million dollars, the maximum penalty, and would lose their top two draft picks in the next draft.  Luck for the Cardinals their first round pick had been forfeited when they signed free agent Dexter Fowler so the Astros are left with two picks from the Cardinals outside of the first round of the MLB draft.
     Stakeholders are individuals that have an interest or concern in this case.  These individuals may be stakeholders as they are a part of a group that has in interest in the case.  The stakeholders in this case are the front offices of both baseball organizations, baseball fans, sports reporters covering the scandal, Chris Correa, Jeff Luhnow and other former Cardinals now Astros staff, Bill DeWitt, and Jim Crane, owner of the Astros.  Both front offices are going to be affected by this scandal as it was committed by someone in the front office of the Cardinals.  Policy may change in order to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.  The Astros front office may increase security while the Cardinals may monitor their employees better.  Fans of baseball in general and fans of both teams are going to be effected because the integrity of player acquisition has now been questioned.  Who's to say this hasn't happened before?  It is important for the baseball fan to pay attention to this kind of scandal as it creates healthy skepticism in the practices their own team implements in keeping player data secure and how their own team finds out information on potential players.  Reporters have a stake in this case because it is a part of their job to break sports news to the public.  A scandal like this deserves to be shown to the public in fair, unbiased news articles so fans can formulate opinions on what happened.  It is important these reporters take an interest in this case so they can do their jobs properly and inform sports fans of what is going on.  Chris Correa has a stake in the case because he is the one who committed the crime of hacking.  He is the reason this paper can be written because he brought the Cardinals ethics into question.  Jeff Luhnow would have a stake because he is at the
Jeff Luhnow: General Manager of the Astros
center of this case.  Although according to the findings, Luhnow had nothing to do with the hacking, the databases were his creation.  He should be interested in their security and their accessibility.  He should also look into possibly changing his passwords.  Bill DeWitt has a stake as he owns the Cardinals and is responsible for how his employees conduct themselves at work.  The reputation of the Cardinals organization was tarnished by Correa so DeWitt has a stake in this case because it effects how his organization is seen.  Jim Crane is a stakeholder because his team had valuable player data stolen that resulted in missed opportunities to acquire players because the Cardinals beat them to it,  This cost his team money and success so following this case would be important for finding out how much this actually cost his team.
     Friedman's individualism, which focuses more on business, describes individualism as profit being the only goal of a business.  This means that employees of a business are obligated to do whatever they can to help the business maximize profit within the parameters of the law.  From the individualist point of view, Correa was doing whatever he could to make the Cardinals better.  The Cardinals baseball team is technically a business that profits from the game of baseball.  Correa stole player information from the Astros in order to gain a competitive edge.  During the court hearing, federal prosecutors said, "the hacking cost the Astros about $1.7 million, taking into account how Correa used the Astros' data to draft players." (ESPN, 2016)  The Astros lost out on making 1.7 million from players the Cardinals took which means Chris Correa helped the Cardinals make 1.7 million dollars.  He helped the Cardinals profit in a big way and the players he drafted will continue to have an impact in the organization long after Correa gets out of prison.  Some individualist may say that what he did was ethical based on individualism.  The only problem is though, he acquired the data illegally.  He may have done whatever he could to help the company profit but he did so by stealing information.  What he did was most certainly helpful to the Cardinals but it was clearly illegal as he was fined 280,000 dollars and sentenced to 46 months in prison.  On top of this punishment, Major League Baseball fined the Cardinals 2 million dollars which essentially nullifies any monetary gains Correa helped them get as a result of his hacking.  From an individualist perspective, what Correa did is unethical because he may have helped the Cardinals maximize profit, he did so by illegal means.
From a utilitarian perspective, happiness and or pleasure are the only things that an individual values intrinsically.  Individuals should also spread happiness or pleasure wherever they can and do so impartially.  If happiness is to be valued, then there should be no difference between the happiness of one person and the happiness of another person from a moral perspective.  In terms of the case, Correa only tried to maximize his own happiness.  He did end up spreading happiness to the Cardinals organization because he “found” good players but that happiness was quickly negated after it came to light how he found those players.  He also impartially spread this happiness as he knew that when he did this, the Astros would be an afterthought to Correa.  He made himself happy because he was making the Cardinals happy but never took into account the happiness of the Astros.  Even the happiness he provided the Cardinals was short lived because after he got caught, the commissioner of the MLB fined the Cardinals 2 million dollars.  Correa spread happiness in a partial manner which violates a principle of utilitarianism.  He essentially weighted his happiness and the happiness of the Cardinals over everyone else’s because he worked for them and wanted to see them do well while also making himself seem like he was excelling at his job.  Based on the values of utilitarianism, what Correa did would be considered unethical.  He failed to maximize the happiness of more than just himself and when he did increase the happiness of the others, the Cardinals, he did so partially as he stole data and stealing is not known to make people or companies happy.
There are four basic principles of Kantianism.  The first, an individual must act rationally.  They
need to act consistently and not consider themselves exempt from the rules.  The second is an individual should be helping people make rational decisions.  The third is to respect people and their autonomy along with their needs and differences.  The fourth is that the individual should be motivated by Good Will.  They should want to do what is right just because it is the right thing to do.  A Kantian also believes that being rational is doing the right thing so there for being right is also rational.  In the case of Correa, he did not meet these requirements.  Correa considered himself exempt from the rules when he hacked the Astros database.  Perhaps he felt he would not be caught and it is clear he did not feel bound by laws against hacking as he accessed the database at least five times over a span of years.  He did not help anyone make a rational decision during this time.  The data he stole was used by the Cardinals to acquire players in order to better their team and although
the Cardinals did not know about it, Correa was still not in the right to share this information.  Therefore, he did not help the Cardinals make a rational decision as he did not specify where he got this information from.  The former Cardinals employees turned Astros employees trusted Correa with their work laptops and passwords when they left the Cardinals organization.  A password keeps your personal information safe from people you do not wish to view it.  Correa did not respect these employees or their privacy when he memorized one of the passwords and guessed the correct new one in order to gain access to the database that the Astros have.  Lastly, Correa was not motivated by Good Will when he made the decision to hack into that database.  He was motivated by the thought of a possible pay raise and prestige bump when he showed his bosses all this player information he “worked so hard to get.”  Correa did not want to do what was right and actually obtain player data the legal way by collecting it himself, he instead decided to steal it.  What he did was not right and is therefore irrational.  Based on Kantian ideals, this would make what Correa did unethical.
Virtue Theory
A virtue is a characteristic that allows for things to work properly.  In business, there are four major virtues.  These virtues are courage, honesty, temperance, and justice.  Courage is the risks an individual takes and their willingness to stand up for what is right.  Correa took a huge risk by hacking into the Astro’s database and stealing their information.  Although this does not mean he had courage.  Based on the doctrine of mean, Correa’s decision to do this was very far away from the mean of courage and was somewhere closer to one of the extremes.  It could be argued that Correa’s was rash as he really didn’t look at the big picture of what he was doing.  IT could also be considered cowardice because instead of doing what was right and difficult, he chose to steal player information and not work for it.  This ties into his lack of willingness to stand up for what is right.  What Correa did was not right and it can be clearly shown it wasn’t right as he is spending 46 months in prison.  Correa was clearly not willing to do what was right and chose rather to take an easier route in order to get player data.  This inevitably cost him his freedom.  Honesty is how truthful you are when talking to coworkers, customers, and other companies.  Correa was not honest with anyone.  Nobody really knew in the Cardinals organization where Correa was getting his player information from, they just knew he had it.  It took a federal investigation of his company in order for Correa to come clean and admit what he did.  He may have even continued on with the lie had he not done such a bad job trying to cover his tracks.  Temperance is having reasonable expectations and desires.  Correa never expected to be caught for what he was doing which can be clearly seen because of how frequently he viewed the Astro’s database.  It is unreasonable to expect that he would not get caught especially after it was announced that the database was breached and he still kept accessing it.  His desire to help the Cardinals succeed was also unreasonable because he was willing to do illegal things in order to help them.  This desire is too extreme if he is willing to break the law in order to help his company win more baseball games.  Lastly, justice is the hard work, good ideas, and fair practices of an employee.  Correa did not exhibit any kind of justice.  He cut corners by stealing player data from the Astros because he just so happened to guess a correct password.  This means he did not need to put in any hard work in order to get this information.  He did not abide by the law or the rules of baseball when he hacked into this database which means he did not show fair practices in his business.  By illegally requiring player information, he unfairly helped the Cardinals have a competitive advantage over other teams.  Based on virtue theory what Chris Correa did was unethical.
Justified Ethics Evaluation
     From my own ethical perspective, what Chris Correa did was unethical.  You don't even need the ethical theories to see that because what he did put himself in prison.  I find that Correa's lack of foresight to be especially unethical.  At some point when he was trying to guess the password for the Astro's database he had to have known what he was doing was wrong.  But he kept going until he eventually got in and continued to access the database.  He ended up tarnishing the reputation of the Cardinals by cheating and stealing which caused the Cardinals to receive penalties because of his wrongdoings.  Although the Cardinals are not totally spotless in this case.  They never thought to look into how Correa received his player data and how it specifically related to the Astros apparently never raised any red flags to them.  Seems kind of suspicious to me.  I believe that what Correa did was grossly unethical and I also believe that the lack of questioning by the Cardinals makes their handling of this situation unethical as well.

Daniels, Tim. "St. Louis Cardinals Under FBI Investigation For Alleged Hack Of Astros System". Bleacher Report. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Kepner, Tyler. "Cardinals To Suffer, But Former Executive Bears Brunt In Hacking Case". Nytimes.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Press, Associated. "Ex-Cards Exec Gets Prison Time For Astros Hack". ESPN.com. N.p., 2016. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Reiter, Ben. "Worse Than Deflategate: Why Cardinals' Hacking Is So Problematic". SI.com. N.p., 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.

Saxon, Mark. "Cardinals Get Off Light With Hacking Scandal Penalties". ESPN.com. N.p., 2017. Web. 31 Jan. 2017.



No comments:

Post a Comment