Jim Murphy, Cabinet Office Minister with responsibility for e- government, has launched the UK's first ever quality award scheme which ensures users of "off-the-shelf" IT security products that they do what it says on the label.

He announced BeCrypt are the first company to have a product win the award, at a Civil IA Product and Services Co-ordination Group event held in Birmingham.

After a year in pilot phase, the Minister announced that the scheme is going live.

Originally planned to be commercially launched in 2006, the pilot part of the scheme has been delivered to schedule and CSIA are recommending the Mark be adopted as market standard across the public sector.

Mr Murphy said: "This scheme will bring welcome new levels of confidence and assurance to information security in the public sector.

"As public sector services and information systems become more joined up, the government is taking steps to ensure those systems are adequately protected.

"The CCT Mark will help vendors and buyers alike, and guarantees information assurance in public sector organisations remains robust and retains high levels of public confidence."

The CCT Mark is primarily aimed at IT and information security managers across the wider public sector, but will also provide an invaluable guide to small and mediumsized businesses wanting to know their purchasing meets the Government's preferred standards.

The CCT Mark will benefit both vendors and users of information security products. Vendors stand to gain from the rapid approval process ( approximately 20 days), low costs to apply for the Mark ( comparative to schemes for highend assurance products), and the marketing benefits that come with a governmentsponsored quality mark.

Buyers of off- the- shelf products and services can be assured CCT Mark recipients will deliver what they claim after independent testing, and benefit from being able to make more informed purchasing choices.

The first company to receive the CCT Mark is BeCrypt, the UK's largest supplier of encryption and security products to protect corporate data.

The firm's award-winning product, Connect Protect, is designed to secure desktop or laptop computers from data leakage via external devices.

BeCrypt chief executive Peter Jaco said: "Being the first company in the UK to receive the Government's new CCTested Mark award is a wonderful result for BeCrypt.

"As a trusted supplier to the UK Government, we need to reach all the standards put before us to prove our products deliver. Obtaining a CCT Mark for Connect Protect means anyone who uses the product, including Government Departments, can be assured of the highest quality security."

In addition to BeCrypt, a second company had two products awarded the Claims Tested Mark in Birmingham. SecureWave, a leading vendor of end point security solutions, had two of its Sanctuary products for secure use of PC applications and executable files and secure management of removable storage devices awarded the mark.