Almost seventy per cent of UK employees are deliberately putting businesses at risk of spam, virus attacks and security violations.

According to research by security firm NetIQ, 69 per cent of UK businesses are wide open to viruses and security risks from the effects of spam. Fifty-five per cent of employees enter their email addresses into chatrooms or e-commerce websites at least five times a week, despite putting the company network in jeopardy of spam or virus attack. The majority of those surveyed admitted to being well aware of hacker or spammer attacks.

“People didn’t seem to take a lot of care with their email addresses,” said Ed Macnair, sales director for NetIQ. “They were quite promiscuous. The UK is a little bit further ahead than France and Germany, and it also had the best use of spam filters at work. But it still remains that 69 per cent of businesses are doing nothing about the problems of spam. Many employees think it’s an annoyance like transport delays.”

The rest of Europe showed similar levels of performance. In France 71 per cent of employees hand over email addresses on the internet, and in Germany it is 65 per cent.

Sixty-one per cent of employees believe they are protected from spam at work through their organisation's spam filter, whilst only 30 per cent say they do not receive spam on a daily basis.

Macnair continued: “The key messages are that we are making a start with preventing spam in the UK, but it’s not working fast enough.”

Ferris Research estimated the cost of spam to European businesses to be €2.5 billion in 2002.

More than 300 users were surveyed.