updated 4/28/2009 9:59:35 AM ET 2009-04-28T13:59:35

The giant Conficker computer worm, once feared as an out-of-control Internet doomsday machine, seems to have settled — for now — on trying to make money in very predictable ways.

Researchers from Cisco Systems Inc. say some of the up to 12 million personal computers infected by Conficker are being used to send about 10,000 to 20,000 spam e-mails a day per computer, far less than they actually are capable of.

Lower volumes help evade detection.

Earlier this month, some Conficker-infected machines started selling fake antivirus software, using annoying pop-up ads to warn of infections that only the criminals can clean up for a fee, but of course never do.

Cisco's chief security researcher, Patrick Peterson, says researchers are convinced "this is the two-pronged method (the criminals) are going to use to make a fortune" off the infected machines.

More on    Conficker virus   |  malicious software

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