Data protection and information security for translations

Data protection information security

Photo credit: Chris Panas

Data security should not be taken for granted when texts are translated into a different language. Data protection and information security are among the greatest challenges of the digital age, and language service providers face them daily. Processing information is our business and requires the provision of appropriate security.

Today, information can be shared across the globe in a split second. This makes it increasingly difficult to contain and control it. With so many types of communication software, cloud storage, cybercrime and new legal frameworks, it’s hard not to lose track. Whether you are translating yourself or outsourcing to an agency, it is mandatory to stay up to date with the risks involved.

Why do we need to protect information?

Information is valuable. This is demonstrated by lawmakers now providing the legal framework to penalise its abuse. Protected information falls into two categories:

Data protection applies to personal data. With the adoption of the GDPR EU residents now have a right to informational self-determination. This legislation entitles them to know what personal data is collected, saved, processed and shared. For companies, this means serious responsibility and obligation.

Information security refers to the protection of data and information as company assets. For listed companies, this especially applies to insider information. These are facts that are unknown to the public, but could affect the value of shares and other securities. Unauthorised sharing of insider information, let alone insider trading, is a criminal offense.

Risks when translating sensitive information

Choices in protecting information always depend on several factors. The safest option would be not to process information at all, but that’s just not realistic. When producing a translation, linguistic quality and expertise are important, but deadlines, budget, customer service and security also need to be considered. In order to make a sound decision when it comes to translations, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Who is translating my information?
  • Is the communication secure?
  • Where is my data stored?
  • Is there a written service agreement and a privacy agreement?

Most language service providers work with freelancers, so it is important that they have measures in place to provide safe communication and data transfer. Sending or receiving confidential data via email is not advisable. The risk can be lessened by encrypting the communication. However, even smaller agencies work with translation management systems that provide options for password-protected downloads or for working in the system directly using a web browser.

Unfortunately, using software also carries risks. The safety level of term bases, translation memories and machine translation heavily depends on the way they are used. Term bases and translation memories should be set up per provider and saved locally, rather than in the cloud. Free translation tools should not be used for any sort of sensitive or personal information.

By now it is probably clear that there is a lot to look out for. If you lack the time to get into the details of the translation process, international standards like the ISO 17100 are a great help in identifying reliable providers. Companies certified according to these standards have to prove the safety and quality of their processes on a regular basis.

5 steps to protecting information during translation

You want to commission a translation that includes sensitive information? Here are five ways to prevent your text from getting into the wrong hands:

  1. Be diligent when choosing your provider: ISO-standards will help you identify reliable partners. In Germany, associations like BDÜ or QSD can help you find them.
  2. Ensure safe communication: Depending on the sensitivity of the information, you should make sure emails are encrypted and use a download server to transfer files.
  3. Censor your texts: The best way to prevent leaks during translation is to take sensitive information out of the files in the first place. This may include names, contact details, numbers or confidential facts. By adding this information back in after the translation, you remain in control of it.
  4. Minimise processes: Every additional person, party or programme is an added risk. Always weigh the added value against the risk, especially when having to send or duplicate information as this further increases the risk. A professional language service provider is a one-stop shop that covers all the steps necessary for a high-quality translation in a secure environment.
  5. Create awareness: When you involve internal or external providers in your project, make them aware that they are handling sensitive information and communicate what security measures should be taken. Written confirmation that such instructions are received and understood adds an extra layer of responsibility.

Do you need sensitive or confidential information translated?

Then you’ve come to the right place! EnglishBusiness is certified according to the ISO 17100:2016 standard and has been a trusted partner for listed companies in Germany and around the globe for over 20 years. Get in touch for a quote or consultation!

Robert Rothe
Marketing and Partner Manager

Robert grew up in Hamburg, but has strong South African roots. At EnglishBusiness he is the German translation editor, manages our pool of external translators and creates our marketing content. In his free time you’ll find him running around the Alster. In this blog he writes about the German language, South Africa, sports and our beautiful port city.

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