Twenty-six percent of 10,000 business PCs scanned in a recent UK-based test were found to contain ‘inappropriate images’, porn-filtering company PixAlert has reported.

The same audit discovered that 12.4 percent of 12,000 email accounts and 5.4 percent of 26,000 file server share directories were affected by the same problem. A total of 125 networks were included in the scan, with the company using its image analysis system, PixAlert Auditor, to identify images among 150 different file types.

Of these ‘inappropriate images’, nearly half were classified as displaying sexual activity or nudity, of which 0.3 percent were actually illegal. A high percentage of the images were found in email, with a third said to be in internal communication.

“Corporate officers wrongly assume that boundary protection systems stop all digital pornography from entering the organisation. But, in PixAlert’s experience, almost all corporations will have a significant amount of pornography on their networks,” said PixAlert’s Andy Churley.

“With a over third of all images found created in the last 12 months it is clear that a significant number of employees continue to ignore corporate policies and in some cases are going to extraordinary lengths to bypass protection systems in order to obtain and distribute inappropriate material,” he said.

PixAlert didn’t indicate whether the companies used in compiling the survey had appropriate use policies, and to what extent these might mediate the distribution of offensive images. A strict policy on such matters would certainly be cheaper than buying a full-blown detection system. The company has in the past argued that using a detection system can eliminate the problem because serial offenders know they will be caught.

The company offers a free audit for companies not using its software, designed to assess the extent of the problem on a company’s network.