Thales UK has reached an agreement to buy cryptographic security vendor nCipher for £50.7 million ($100.3 million), the two companies announced Friday.

Thales, which is the second-largest supplier of electronics to the UK's Ministry of Defence, said the deal will bolster its encryption offerings, giving it several hardware security modules, a provisioning product for managing cryptographic keys and products focused on the security of data stored on tape.

Founded in 1996 and based in Cambridge, England, nCipher offers software centring around encryption, a growing area as companies seek to secure their data in light of high-profile breaches over the last few years.

nCipher's portfolio includes products for handling the keys that unlock encrypted data. How those keys are handled often involves compliance with data protection regulations as well as policy controls for who can access the keys.

Other nCipher products provide storage encryption, speeding SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) transactions and hardware modules for secure e-commerce payment systems.

Last December nCipher bought some of the assets of NeoScale Systems, a private company focused on secure tape storage. nCipher paid $1.95 million for two product lines, the NeoScale CryptoStor KeyVault and CryptoStor Tape appliance.

A month prior to that, the then CEO and co-founder of nCipher, Alex van Someren, announced he was quitting after 11 years in charge.

The purchase of nCipher is less than the amount offered by US rival SafeNet, back in 2006.

SafeNet's proposed £86 million takeover was referred to the Competition Commission, over anti-trust concerns. SafeNet then backed out of the takeover, swallowing a reported $1.4 million in charges and firing its CFO Ken Mueller in the process.

Based on original reporting by Jeremy Kirk, IDG News Service.