Virtuity has launched a new laptop security tool called BackStopp, which automatically wipes data from the hard disk of machines taken from authorised locations.

The system's servers monitor a protected laptop using Wi-Fi or GSM. If a laptop is reported stolen - or even just moved from a designated space - the system can execute a file deletion routine that clears the laptop of all important data.

For laptops stolen while switched off, the location system can use RFID tags to make a judgement about whether that movement is within allowed parameters. A full log of all deletions is sent back to the service centre once completed.

Virtuity even boasts that BackStopp can use a webcam, if one is installed, to take pictures of the thieves, sending these back for analysis without the offenders knowing.

"There are millions of laptops out there that contain valuable data. The vast majority are not stolen for their data, but the ultimate recipient will often come across the data and use it for criminal purposes. This solution prevents that illicit use," said Virtuity's CTO, Dean Bates.

The data destruction routines meet the standards set down by the US Department of Defense's National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual, ensuring it can not be resurrected. Another important aspect of the system is that a thief would not know it was in operation until after data had been wiped, making it extremely hard to circumvent.

BackStopp is designed to be used in conjunction with encryption and, according to Virtuity, is not a replacement for that form of protection. The system also protects network and web logins and VPN connections - often the data companies forgot to protect - as well as static file data.

Laptop theft is now firmly entrenched as the number one data worry with numerous examples of unencrypted data going missing on stolen laptops to embarrass organisations of every ilk in the last year. Prices for BackStopp start at £10 per month for each laptop being protected.