SanDisk says IT managers are unaware of the extent to which unsecured flash drives are being brought into their businesses.

The company's study of corporate end-users and IT executives found that 77 percent admitted to using personal flash drives for work-related purposes. However, when asked to estimate what percentage of the workforce uses personal flash drives, corporate IT respondents said only 35 percent.

Users meanwhile admitted that data files most likely to be copied to a personal flash drives includes customer records (25 percent), financial information (17 percent), business plans (15 percent), employee records (13 percent), marketing plans (13 percent), intellectual property (6 percent) and source code (6 percent).

The survey highlights that due to the highly portable nature of USB flash drives, they represent a significant risk of data loss for enterprises. Approximately one in 10 (12 percent) of corporate end users reported finding a flash drive in a public place. Additionally, when asked to pick the three most likely actions they would take if they found a flash drive in a public place, 55 percent indicated they would view the data.