SanDisk says IT managers are unaware of the extent to which unsecured flash drives are being brought into their businesses.

The company's study of corporate end-users and IT executives found that 77 per cent admitted to using personal flash drives for work-related purposes. However, when asked to estimate what percentage of the workforce uses personal flash drives, corporate IT respondents said only 35 per cent.

Users meanwhile admitted that data files most likely to be copied to a personal flash drives includes customer records (25 per cent), financial information (17 per cent), business plans (15 per cent), employee records (13 per cent), marketing plans (13 per cent), intellectual property (6 per cent) and source code (six per cent).

The survey highlights that due to the highly portable nature of USB flash drives, they represent a significant risk of data loss for enterprises. Approximately one in 10 (12 per cent) of corporate end users reported finding a flash drive in a public place. Additionally, when asked to pick the three most likely actions they would take if they found a flash drive in a public place, 55 per cent indicated they would view the data.