Osama bin Laden's death led to a huge spike in traffic for a large number of news Websites, according to new data from Experian Hitwise.
Osama bin Laden's death at the hands of a Navy SEAL team
proved very good for news and media Websites, according to research firm
"The daily visits to News & Media Websites reached a
three-year high for the second time this year on Monday, May 2, 2011, following
the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden," read a May
5 blog posting
by Experian Hitwise analyst Heather Dougherty. "The previous
peak was on March 11, 2011 from the news of the devastating earthquake and
tsunami in Japan."
President Barack Obama announced May 1 that U.S.
intelligence services had tracked the Al Qaeda founder to a massive compound in
Abbottabad, a midsize town some 30 miles from the Pakistani capital of Islamabad,
where he was killed after a brief firefight with U.S. soldiers. As news of the
death leaked out, searches on Yahoo and Google spiked.
Images of bin
Laden's final hiding place
can be seen on Google Maps.
For May 2, Yahoo News ranked first with a 200 percent
increase in visitors (over the previous Monday). It was followed by MSNBC, the
Huffington Post, CNN.com, and ABCnews.com, all of which saw visits spike by
"It is interesting to note that -bin laden wives' ranked
first followed by -osama bin laden' dead" in search terms driving traffic,
Dougherty added. "Out of the top 100 search terms, 30 were Bin Laden related,
with 6 of those search queries including the term -photo' or -video' as some
called for additional evidence."
Those curious about bin Laden's death weren't the only ones
rushing to the Web: large numbers of cyber-criminals also used the terrorist
mastermind's death as an excuse to push out all manner
of scams, fake antivirus products, and malware
. Many of these took the form
of malicious links to purported video or images from the raid. Given how the
U.S. government has so far declined to release any media related to bin Laden's
final minutes, however, all such links-and associated Websites-are by
definition suspicious. In addition to poisoning search results, scanners have
been using Facebook ads to draw in users.
Cyber-scammers also used Prince William's April 29 wedding
to Catherine Middleton-another event of worldwide import, although without
substantial amounts of gunfire-as an excuse to push malware.
"Don't blindly trust links you see online, whether in
emails, on social networking sites, or from searches. If the URL and the
subject matter don't tie up in some obvious way, give it a miss," Paul Ducklin,
head of technology for the Asia-Pacific region at Sophos, wrote in a May
2 posting on the Naked Security blog
For up-to-date information, users should direct their
browsers to legitimate, recognized news Websites such as Yahoo News and
CNN.com. Which, based on the new data from Experian Hitwise, a significant
portion of the world seems to have done.