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A Florida teenager was banged up for six months yesterday after admitting he hacked into NASA systems.

Jonathan James, known as "cOmrade" on the Net, pleaded guilty to intercepting 3,300 emails, stealing passwords, and nicking data from 13 NASA computers - including some involved with the International Space Station.

The not-so-sweet 16-year-old will do time in a Florida detention centre - he was just 15 when the crimes occurred.

"Breaking into someone else's property, whether it's a robbery or a computer intrusion, is a serious crime," said Attorney General Janet Reno, AP reported

According to the Miami Herald, the lad sat in his bedroom in Pinecrest, Southern Florida, and used his Gateway Pentium 266 computer to access some of the world's most top-secret information.

He was busted by federal agents from Fort Lauderdale touting weapons and bulletproof vests. But not before he had downloaded $1.7 million in NASA proprietary software that supports its environmental systems. Apparently it cost NASA $41,000 to check and fix the system after the hack attack.

As part of his sentence he will apparently have to swallow his pride and write apology letters to both the secretary of defence and the administrator of NASA.

Meanwhile, 20-year-old Jason Diekman was arrested in California yesterday and charged with hacking into systems belonging to NASA and several universities - including Harvard, Stanford and Cornell. ®

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