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The importance of data security in the language industry

Stig Jørgensen

Author: Stig Jørgensen
Chief Operations Officer, LanguageWire
LinkedIn

Illustration of some servers and security cameras

Across the language industry, digital technologies and data-driven solutions indicate a greater need to ensure that data security and compliance measures are in place.

The landscape of the language industry is evolving to meet modern business needs. A big part of this evolution is the much-needed digital transformation. However, as businesses become increasingly digital, data security becomes more complicated.

As the Chief Operations Officer at LanguageWire, data security is a top priority for me and a subject that is profoundly impacting the language industry.

The rapid development of digital technologies and data-driven solutions makes it vital for companies to ensure that data security and compliance measures are in place.

In recent years, the prevention of security incidents and user data leaks have been a core focus for businesses across the world. Recent data scandals have impacted established brands such as Marriot International, Quora, Facebook, and Twitter, to name but a few. In this blog, I will explain why data security is a priority across the language industry.

Data security should be a top priority amongst language service providers (LSPs)

LSPs play an essential role in the supply chain, handling a large amount of sensitive customer data, such as financial information, intellectual property, and employee information.

It is the responsibility of the LSP to educate employees across the organisation and build systems that adhere to recognised security standards that prevent data security incidents from happening.

Across the language industry, compliance with international standards is no longer merely a value-add when it comes to winning new business. Security and risk assessment audits are now the norm during translation RFP and tender processes.

Some recent data security failures within the language industry include data breaches by Easy Translate in 2019, which resulted in the termination of a DKK 520 million contract with the Danish National Police.

Another example is the breach of information by Translate.com, which was exposed in 2017. It was discovered that using the free online machine translation solution on Translate.com resulted in sensitive data being exposed across the Internet.

The rise of international security standards

According to McKinsey, ‘proliferating breaches and the demand of consumers for privacy and control of their own data have led governments to adopt new regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in that US state.’

These regulations have played a significant role in how businesses currently treat data, and has led to data security becoming a key differentiator across all industries.

Within the language industry, data security and compliance industry standards are now a valuable way to gain a competitive advantage and build trust.

ISO the industry standards gatekeeper

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) ‘brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.’

As LSPs handle a lot of sensitive data, partnering with one that meets ISO quality and security standards is no longer a nice-to-have attribute; it has become a must.

What is ISO 27001?

ISO 27001 is an international standard for the secure management of information. It’s a well-known certification which provides requirements for an Information Security Management System (ISMS) within an organisation. Currently, there are only 32,000 companies globally which have an ISO 27001 certification.

LanguageWire is an ISO 27001 certified business, which puts our security standards above most of our peers in the language industry. We have demonstrable internal policies and procedures which cover a range of information security topics.

What is ISO 17100?

ISO 17100 is a standard that requires evidence for ‘the core processes, resources, and other aspects necessary for the delivery of a quality translation service that meets applicable specifications’.

ISO 17100 requires LSPs to deliver evidence of translator qualifications, translator skills, project manager competency, professional management of core processes, as well as other processes related to the delivery of high-quality translation services.

LanguageWire is an ISO 17100 certified business. For LanguageWire users, the ISO 17100 certification ensures adherence to best-in-class processes on translation projects.

What is ISO 9001?

The ISO 9001 standard is based on specific conditions for a quality management system, and ‘is based on a number of quality management principles, including a strong customer focus, the motivation and implication of top management, the process approach, and continual improvement’.

The ISO 9001 certification sends a good signal as to whether an LSP has the appropriate quality management system in place to ensure high-quality content and consistency.

LanguageWire is an ISO 9001 certified business. We’ve put robust quality management systems in place to ensure that we deliver quality global content to our customers.

Secure Machine Translation

Machine Translation (MT) is redefining the language service industry as more and more companies adopt MT to optimise their content workflows.

When people first consider machine translation, free online engines like Google Translate come to mind. However, this type of translation is not suitable in the workplace. Security concerns and the lack of control over your content, especially when it comes to open-source translation solutions, far outweigh the cost savings.

What many people do not realise when they use a free MT solution like Google Translate is that they are agreeing to Google’s terms, and have given Google the right to control their company’s data. Google Translate can be useful for ‘on the fly’ translations and for personal use, but it is not designed for secure, corporate-level translation.

LanguageWire is in the process of obtaining ISO 18587 certification (ETA November 2020), demonstrating that high-quality machine translation is the driving force behind LanguageWire’s dedicated machine learning team.

Four data security questions to ask your LSP

Here are four questions you should ask when selecting an LSP to ensure that they comply with international standards and best practices.

A compliant LSP diagram

Select an LSP that complies with international standards and best practices.

1. Does the LSP comply with privacy laws?

Selecting an LSP that complies with the privacy laws of the country within which you operate is essential. Across EU member states, GDPR compliance is imperative, and in the US, CCPA compliance is equally important.

2. What ISO certifications does the LSP hold?

As we have discussed, ISO standards are an easy way to narrow down the list of LSPs you would consider partnering with to create global content. ISO certifications are the way to assure with certainty that the LSP you chose to partner with can deliver on quality and data security measures.

3. Does the LSP offer secure cloud-based infrastructure?

To ensure security, reliability, scalability, and cost-efficiency, your chosen LSP ideally processes customer data via a private cloud infrastructure.

‘A private cloud consists of computing resources used exclusively by one business or organization. The private cloud can be physically located at your organization’s on-site data center, or it can be hosted by a third-party service provider’

Microsoft, 2020.

4. Does the LSP offer a secure Machine Translation solution?

Avoid using free, online MT solutions in a business context. They cannot guarantee the data security measures you need for business-level translations. You should rather partner with an established LSP that provides a secure MT solution.

Conclusion

When outsourcing content production and translation, it is important to consider the security of your data. Collaborating with an LSP, therefore, requires a deep understanding of the technology and process behind the services offered.

Mapping out the privacy and security measures the company has in place will give you the peace of mind your company needs to create global content. Compliance with privacy laws, key ISO certifications (ISO 27001, ISO 17100 , ISO 9001, and ISO 18587), and a private cloud-based infrastructure are important criteria to look out for when selecting an LSP.

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