Former Los Alamos National Laboratory computer specialist Jerome T. Heckenkamp, 25, of Santa Monica, was sentenced to eight months in prison yesterday for cracking into the computer systems of several high-tech companies, including eBay. The sentence for such crimes can extend to up to five years, however in this case the sentence was to eight months in prison and eight months of electronic monitoring and home confinement. Heckenkamp was also ordered to pay $268,291 in restitution, and can not use a computer with Internet access without approval from a probation officer for three years.

Heckenkamp admitted breaking into San Jose-based eBay's computers in February and March 1999, defacing a Web page and installing malicious programs that captured usernames and passwords that he used to gain access to other eBay computers.

Heckenkamp also admitted he broke into San Diego-based Qualcomm Inc.'s computers in late 1999 and installing more so-called "Trojan" programs. At the time, he was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.