Anti-piracy campaigners FAST IiS have spoken out over new research from security firm ScanSafe that purported to show a 55% rise in office workers attempting to download illegal software and other content onto their work networks.
The organisation has previously warned that business networks where illegal file-sharing goes on are often found lacking in other areas of compliance.
FAST chief executive John Lovelock said: "Downloading what looks like free software from P2P sites is not recommended. At the very least it's against the law if the software should be purchased and there's a high likelihood of malware being a free and silent add-on."
He added that directors of firms where such activity was taking place could find themselves liable and face a criminal trial under the 1988 Copyright, Design and Patents Act.
Lovelock reminded firms to include an IT policy as part of any contract of employment as a matter of course.
Barely a fortnight into the new year the battle against illegal downloads and software shows no signs of abating, with the Business Software Alliance reporting its first settlement of 2010 last week.