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”For Your Eyes Only?” Online Documentation Safety Considerations
by Terralíngua      Posted in  December 4, 2017

”For Your Eyes Only?” Online Documentation Safety ConsiderationsIt was reported last year on a CBS News website that there are more Americans worried about their data privacy than about losing their income. 56 percent of the people are concerned about their privacy and trust the companies they deal with will keep their data from falling into the wrong hands.

With the recent security breaches of large companies including Equifax, individuals are worried that their names, addresses, social security numbers and a host of other bits of information will be stolen and used in identity theft. It has unfortunately become a common concern among individuals, but how aware is your company of privacy breaches?

Your company may have policies in place regarding email communication and social media, but what about your documentation safety? You assume that the companies you work with will treat your files with the same amount of care and online security that you use, but what assurances do you have?

This issue came to the forefront in the translation industry with a massive security breach of documents used through a free online translation service. Potentially confidential information related to company communication, contracts and products were posted in good faith by employees seeking free and quick translation, which, unbeknownst to them, exposed their content unprotected on the internet. When using free translation tools, you might find that the text you have entered becomes available on the internet for anyone to access. A Norwegian company that used a free translation service discovered that some sensitive information was available to anyone who used Google. In response, many companies took action, including the Oslo Stock Exchange, which blocked all free online translation providers in their company, including Google Translate. (See this article.)

This incident raised an issue to many minds – what steps are being taken to ensure my company’s online documentation safety?

There are four important general considerations when transferring your documentation online. Of course, if your documentation is subject to government or ITAR considerations, the level of care should be higher.

  1. 1) A secure website. Look for SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) to ensure internet traffic is encrypted. There should be an image of a lock at the beginning of the web address. The URL should start with the letters “https”, which is used for secure communications. Qualys SSL Labs has a free test to check any domain to ensure it is secure and it only takes minutes to complete. Look for an “A” rating before sending any confidential files.
  2. 2) Individual Passwords. When uploading or downloading files, make sure there is an individual access code or password to enter a site. When creating passwords, confirm that each account has its own password, which is a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters.
  3. 3) Non-Disclosure Agreements. Ensure anyone working with your files has signed a non-disclosure or confidentiality agreement. This should not be only between you and the translation partner. Make sure the translation agency also has protocols in place with their translators to protect content confidentiality and enforces a privacy policy.
  4. 4) Documentation Protocol. Ensure all hard copy documentation is properly destroyed by your translation partner and that sensitive documentation is not open for access by unauthorized personnel within your company or theirs.

Rather than blindly trusting protocols are in place, ask your translation provider for their policies regarding client documentation. As it may be noticed through recent headlines, there are those who seek to infiltrate even the most secure systems. Therefore, due diligence is required. Checking that even basic requirements are met will help ensure safer documentation handling and lessen the risks of content breach.


Terralingua is an ISO certified professional translation company also specialized in localization and desktop publishing. We invite you to review our client privacy policy. Please visit www.terralinguatranslations.com to test drive our secure extranet and obtain a non-binding translation quote.

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