Seagate has announced a hard disk featuring what it claims to be the "world's strongest encrypting 2.5-inch" hard drive. The company says the drive is initially shipping to a manufacturer of secure laptops, but the technology could be seen in consumer and standard business notebooks before long.

Seagate's Momentus 5400 FDE.2 (Full Disc Encryption) hard drive uses perpendicular recording technology. This means greater capacity - in this case 160GB. It also has hardware-based AES encryption which is used to encrypt all of the hard drive's information transparently.

The process happens automatically so the laptop user doesn't need to have any knowledge of the encryption process.

Seagate says the technology means that companies can retire, dispose of or reuse machines without having to worry about the security implications of not deep-cleaning the drives. The encryption will also help companies struggling to deal with ever-comprehensive data protection legislation.

A recent study by the Ponemon Institute found that 35 per cent of all computer data breaches involved lost laptops or other digital devices.