Hackers are using Michael Jackson's death to try and trick people into disclosing personal details, says Sophos.

According to the security vendor, less than 24 hours after the death of the 50-year-old singer, web users have received emails that claim to contain 'vital information' about his death.

Sophos says that although the messages don't contain any malicious attachments or links to infected websites, if the recipient replies, spammers can harvest their email address for potential use in ID fraud.

"Hackers are never slow to jump upon the coattails of breaking news stories in their attempts to spread spam and malware. Cybercriminals have no respect for taste and decency. The only thing they are interested in is making some money for themselves, and turning other computer users' lives into a misery," said Graham Cluley of Sophos.

"With so many people going onto the net to follow the latest developments in the Michael Jackson story, we wouldn't be surprised at all to see further attempts to trick people.  No-one at the moment would bet any money on hackers not chasing after this story by spamming out malicious links claiming to include exclusive footage of Jackson's last moments, or disguising themselves as breaking news from the likes of the BBC."

News of Michael Jackson's death caused a massive surge in internet traffic last night, which caused Google to temporarily crash.