The cost of e-mail and internet abuse is hitting small firms in the Capital, according to a new survey.
The research found that technology-related offences are using up around 46 per cent of the total cost of running e-mail systems.
The findings, completed by Peninsula, the largest employment law firm in the UK, discovered the average employee spends 57 minutes a day browsing the internet.
It also revealed staff send on average 15 personal e-mails a day. Forty-two per cent of all company e-mails distributed were believed to be personal.
According to the survey of 274 Edinburgh employers, 61 per cent of them have experienced employees downloading illegal software, while there was an additional cost because of clearing computer viruses due to illegal downloading.
Peter Done, managing director of Peninsula said today: "On average employees are spending 57 minutes per day browsing the internet. However, this is not just confined to worker lunch and rest periods.
"Monitoring e-mail is a necessity if you want to avoid liability problems. Clear guidelines of when an employee can and cannot surf the internet should be made clear."
Almost 80 per cent of small businesses polled plan to introduce internet policies over the next 12 months. Only 17 per cent of those questioned have policies in place.