HP is shipping laptops that include full disk-encryption (FDE) software from SafeBoot to prevent data falling into the wrong hands when laptops are lost or stolen.

The software installed on the devices inserts itself in the boot process, so users must authenticate themselves to the software before the operating system kicks in.

If the device is lost or stolen, SafeBoot device encryption prevents anyone without the proper authentication - which can include two-factor authentication - from accessing the machine.

The software on the laptops is intended for small and mid-size businesses that don't necessarily have the resources to buy and manage enterprise-sized disk encryption, said HP.

The version of SafeBoot software on the HP laptops was custom made for HP. The company says it plans to upgrade it over time to include other authentication technology.

HP is rolling out the SafeBoot-equipped laptops now as it delivers its 2007 models, a spokesperson says.