Businesses are at risk of data loss and theft because of bad management of mobile storage devices within organizations.

A new survey found that 61.5 percent of memory stick owners use their devices to transfer data to their PC; 53 percent to their laptop; 5 percent to their games console; 5 percent to their MP3 players and 2.6 percent to their Smartphone or Blackberry.

The Mobile Access study, carried out by the Social Futures Observatory investigated attitudes towards portable media and storage devices, which are proving increasingly difficult to manage.

According to study the statistics, show that memory sticks are becoming increasingly important, providing individuals with flexibility over where and how they work in addition to reducing overhead and personal equipment costs, such as personal printers.

"The growing transformations in the market for highly portable devices, where they facilitate the rapid transfer of data, raises serious questions about the opportunities for the liberation of corporate data, the potential for the transfer of destructive viruses and the serious threat of identity fraud following the loss of theft of such devices carrying personal details," said professor Michael Hulme, director of the Centre for the Study of Media, Technology and Changes.

Because the primary function of devices such as digital cameras, MP3 players and mobile phones, is not likely to be data storage, the unintentional release of data upon sale or loss of such equipment, is not being considered by users.

"With the cost of these removable media devices being constantly driven down individuals are failing to make the connection between the value of the data stored on such devices and the level of care that needs to be taken to secure it," said Neil Larkins, director of Reflex Magnetics, the company that commissioned the study. "The study highlights the need for an education process, to ensure these businesses and end-users understand that devices should be properly managed and that full consideration is given to the effect of the loss or theft of the data."