The number of office workers using their corporate network to illegally file-share has increased, says ScanSafe.
According to the cloud-security vendor, attempts to illegally download MP3s and software via a work internet connection has increased by 55 per cent over the past three months.
"Employees mistakenly assume they can use the internet at work in exactly the same way as they use it at home and this is potentially one of the reasons for this steady increase in illegal download attempts over recent months," said Spencer Parker, director of product management at ScanSafe.
"Inappropriate internet use in the workplace can put the employer at risk for legal liabilities."
Parker explained that an employer will often be held legally responsible for any wrongful acts committed by an employee 'in the course of their employment'.
ScanSafe said that even if a legal claim is unsuccessful, dealing with claims makes substantial demands on management time and also involves significant legal costs.
"Downloading illegal content is a 'double whammy' for employers as not only does it put them at risk legally but it also puts the company network at risk of being infected with malware."
"A large majority of free illegal downloading websites are often riddled with malware," added Parker.
ScanSafe advised employers to formulate Internet usage policies and educate then employees on the policies themselves and the potential consequences of non-compliance.
"Employers should also require staff to sign to acknowledge their understanding of acceptable web use during working hours."