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The Internet all but died on the day of Michael Jackson’s death, analysts say. Akamai’s Net Usage Index estimates the Web spiked to more than4.2 million global visitors a minute at its peak on Friday morning. Normal traffic is about 2 million a minute. Of those visitors, nearly 84 percent were in the United States.

AOL’s instant messaging service, AIM, was down for 40 minutes under the pressure.

A deluge of search queries for Michael Jackson led Google News to believe it was under attack. Millions around the world begin searching for items about the pop star. It rated the Jackson-related searches as “volcanic”.

Tweets were up to 5000 a minute within the first hour of the report. Jackson generated the most tweets a second since Barack Obama was elected president in November. The frenzy tripped up Twitter briefly, but engineers kept the service running.

“We saw more twice the normal tweets per second the moment the story broke as people shared their grief and memories,” Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said.

Jackson’s death quickly opened an opportunity for cyber-criminals. One malicious spam campaign entices visitors to a compromised site (Beatz radio) where a bogus Michael.Jackson.videos.scr screensaver is served.

A second campaign is spammed from legitimate emails in an attempt to harvest the emails replies

US-Cert, the cybersecurity arm of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), says it’s “aware of reports of an increased number of spam campaigns, phishing attacks, and malicious code targeting the recent deaths of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett”.

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