The Laptop Liabilities survey of 500 European business laptop users conducted by research firm Dynamic Markets found that employees admit allowing people outside of work to use their laptops and surfing peer-to-peer websites where they download illegal music and movies.
The independent study commissioned by content security firm Websense warned that these activities unwittingly allow the spread of malicious code such as viruses and pose corporate security risks when laptops are connected to employers' networks.
Almost half of respondents admit that people outside of work access their laptop, with one in five having no idea who actually uses it. Almost 90 per cent employees admit to downloading 'non-work' software when out of the office.
The research indicated that only one in ten employees care that their company may face prosecution for breach of copyright because of their downloading of illegal music files and movies - whereas 15 per cent worry about being prosecuted themselves.
Although 42 per cent of users admitted visiting peer-to-peer, adult content and hacking sites, 35 per cent of workers went on to say that their corporate IT departments should be responsible for what ends up on their laptop while it is used at home.
Geoff Haggart, vice president Europe for Websense said: "Mobile workers are unaware of many of the hidden dangers of the internet. Not only do they not fully understand the risks of many of the activities they are doing on the internet, but more worryingly, they are leaving themselves and their employers open to attack from all manner of malicious content.
"Companies need to educate and empower employees to ensure they are able to make conscious decisions to ensure safer surfing on their laptops - both in the office and at home."