Just nine percent of UK firms have an enterprise-wide encryption strategy, research has revealed.

A study of more than 540 UK IT professionals and business managers carried out by the Ponemon Institute for encryption specialist PGP found that more than half cited reputation and brand protection as the biggest drivers for adopting encryption technology.

But although 55 percent of those surveyed had some kind of encryption strategy, only 9 percent had a strategy that extended across the entire enterprise.

Just 10 percent of respondents said laptops and back-up tapes were encrypted, despite recent high-profile cases where data held on laptops has been lost or stolen, the survey released at the Infosec security show in London revealed.

Earlier this year, Nationwide building society was fined nearly £1 million ($2 million) by the Financial Services Authority following the theft of a laptop containing confidential information.

Half of those surveyed said they were interested in a platform approach to centrally manage and deploy a number of encryption applications, citing lower operational costs and a reduction in administrative work.

PGP chief executive Phillip Dunkelberger: "Recent UK data breaches such as those at TK Maxx, Halifax building society, and a Nottinghamshire hospital could easily have been avoided by deploying available encryption technologies.

"However, the negative publicity from breaches continues to rise, tarnishing companies' brand images, damaging consumer confidence, and causing serious headaches for IT and executive management."

Organisations should take "a hard look" at their data protection strategies, he added.