The Ministry of Defence is to secure the data on the laptops of all three Armed Forces using hard disk encryption, in an extension to an earlier deal.

The Ministry of Defence is to protect 20,000 of its laptops using hard disk encryption.

In an extension to an earlier deal, laptops across all three Armed Forces will utilise the DISK Protect product from BeCrypt, which encrypts and decrypts information on the fly to help prevent data theft. The product allows a hard disk to be encrypted using a single key, with each user having an authentication token. The contents of the hard drive become unreadable if the user is not in possession of the token.

DISK Protect will be used to secure data which is marked Restricted, or below, and it will be used for laptops which are not part of the DII, the MoD's Defence Information Infrastructure Project.

The DII is a multi-million pound project to provide a computing infrastructure and services for 300,000 MoD staff across 2,000 sites worldwide. DISK Protect is already being used for DII laptops after a deal struck between the MoD and BeCrypt in 2006.

Like other Government departments, the MoD has not been immune to data losses in the past, having mislaid 11,000 ID cards as well as details of 600,000 staff.