More than a third (39 per cent) of P2P (peer-to-peer) file sharers are illegally file sharing while at work, according to a report.

The study, by security provider Blue Coat Systems, found that nearly 60 per cent of employees are unconcerned that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) may take legal action against a company that has copyrighted content on the network.

Blue Coat vice president of marketing Steve Mullaney said: "The enterprise environment appears to be a safe haven for the use of illegal P2P file sharing. Employees are not sufficiently worried about their companies getting sued by organizations such as the RIAA or MPAA."

The music and motion-picture industries have been primarily focused on home users illegally sharing copyrighted material.

"In addition to the legal risks created with illegal P2P file sharing, P2P downloading can easily consume 30 per cent of network bandwidth, consume network storage and initiate spyware. It's time for enterprises to stop letting employees do things that put their business at risk," Mullaney added.

To protect against possible legal liability and to preserve network bandwidth, Blue Coat recommends gaining visibility into all P2P activity on the network, establishing an acceptable Internet use policy across the entire enterprise, and enforcing an acceptable use policy with a proxy appliance.

Of the 300 respondents, 42 per cent admitted to using P2P file sharing applications such as Kazaa, Morpheus, BearShare, LimeWire, and clients using Gnutella or FastTrack networking technologies.