A study by Mirapoint and the Radicati Group said 6 percent of corporate employees admitted to emailing confidential information outside their company.
Craig Carpenter, Mirapoint director of corporate marketing and global channels, estimated that that number is actually higher because respondents would not readily admit disclosing private information.
"Six percent of people sending confidential info to people when they shouldn't be is something that's alarming to me," he said. "Companies don't have any control over it. They don't even have any insight into it."
The report, "Corporate Email User Habits," also found that employees are using their personal email accounts to circumvent company regulations. One quarter of respondents said they regularly forward company email messages to their personal accounts, while 62 percent said they send business-related emails from their non-work accounts.
Only 22 percent of respondents could confirm the presence of their company's content filter for outside mail, while 42 percent said they could not and 36 percent said they did not know. Only half (50 percent) of companies polled had published email policies, but 31 percent of employees said their companies did not put such a guide into writing. Nineteen percent did not know.
Sara Radicati, president of the Radicati Group, said the number of employees sending company information to the outside world is dangerously high.
"While 6 percent may seem like a small number, in a 10,000-user organization, it translates to 600 employees leaking intellectual property – and it only takes one email to leak critical trade secrets that can cripple an organization's business strategy," she said.