The internet has made many services more convenient. The things that took a while to accomplish in the past can now be done in an instant. In today’s world of globalization, translation services play an important role in everything around us. Whether it is a website, software, tutorials or marketing content, we need to make sure that the message received by people is understood correctly. 

If you are running any kind of business where customers or clients from all around the world, you have to use their language for effective customer service. Therefore, translation services are an essential thing to have. For example, CookieYes uses auto-translation for its cookie consent banner which is displayed on multilingual websites and for visitors who come to the site from all over the world.

It’s fast and easy to get documents translated because everything can now be done online. While the online service is very convenient, it does raise a few questions. One particularly concerning is the question of security. Are your documents safe when you submit them for translation online? How do you know that your information will stay secure? These are just some of the questions concerning security that we will be tackling in this article. This is even more concerning when you learn that 28% of all victims of data breaches are small businesses.

Risks of automated online translation services

Online translation tools are becoming more and more prominent day by day. They can provide a quick and accurate way of translating your content into different languages when you don’t have the budget for professional translators. However, the security of automated online translations remains an issue.

There are certain risks when getting documents translated online and many are unaware of them. 

Automatic translation services

There are many platforms for automatic online translation now. The most common and most popular is Google Translate. It is easy to use and is used for translating words, phrases, and sentences. All one has to do is copy-paste the words on the platform and there will be instant results. It also has a feature allowing one to upload documents.

Google translation services
Google Translate translates content quickly and for free
File upload option in Google Translate
File upload option in Google Translate

Issues may arise for content creators when using such online platforms due to their terms of service. E.g., Using Google Translate may mean giving Google a worldwide license to use the content

Google terms of services applicable for its translation services
Excerpt from Google’s Terms of Service, which outlines how content shared on its auto-translation platform may be used.

Though the provision states they will only use the content as a means of promoting or improving their services, it still presents a risk of people gaining access to your documents. So, if you are handling sensitive information, using Google Translate is not the best option.

Unsecure websites and apps

Companies that provide translations now mainly get their clients through the web. Clients can upload their documents on a secure website, which is convenient for everyone involved. Translation services like Tomedes follow this system. They allow potential clients to upload their documents and get a quote on how much the project would cost. 

Such platforms are legally obligated to secure all sensitive information of clients once they sign up. Unfortunately, some companies do not take the time to secure their sites. This can allow sensitive information to be stolen by hackers.

Internet cookies are used on more than 40% of websites. While most are harmless, some aren’t secure. If a translation services website uses cookies, make sure they are secure. You can use a free online cookie checker to identify cookies used by a website.

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As a potential client, you need to read the fine print about data privacy and security. You should also ask for clarification before you sign a contract.

File upload issues in translation service sites

Many translation service sites have problems when it comes to file uploads. Unsecure file uploads can cause issues for the servers and the users of the site, so the site must have proper security. With no restrictions and appropriate security in place for file uploads, some sites may collect malicious PHP which will harm the server.

Let us discuss some of the more common file upload problems today.

Local File Upload Issue

Because of this kind of vulnerability, users can upload files that contain harmful code directly into the site. The easiest way to fix this is to verify the user’s license. Unfortunately, that can be bypassed quite easily. 

Remote File Upload Issue

This kind of vulnerability happens when the site does not allow its users to upload files directly. Remote file vulnerability can lead to denial of service attacks. It is=s possible that the entire system could be taken over by attackers. This would compromise the files of clients who have uploaded confidential documents for translation.

Best practices to follow when hiring translation services

How can you be sure that the company you have hired to do the translation is secure? For starters, you can check their site. There are a few things that you can check on the site that would indicate whether the site is secure or not.

Here are some tips to determine if the website you will be using for your translation needs is secure. 

#1 Ensure website is SSL certified

You can check whether a website is secure by looking at its URL; the secure versions begin with “HTTPS” instead of “HTTP,” and are often accompanied by a padlock symbol. Secure HTTPS websites use secure sockets layer (SSL) technology to encrypt your personal information that passes from your browser to the server of the website. It is one of the most basic ways for securing a website.

Websites with HTTP URLs are less secure. It does not mean that your data will be compromised or that the document you want to be translated will be read by unscrupulous individuals; it simply means that it is more vulnerable to hacks and unauthorized access.

All the information sharing and transfer in websites with HTTPS are encrypted and are generally safe to use.

To avail security of your website and keep your customers’ data secure, SSL certificate is an ideal solution. If you are thinking about which SSL type to purchase then, there are multiple options including RapidSSL, Comodo SSL certificate, Thawte SSL cert, DigiCert SSL, etc. All these are well-known authorities who offer the most secured SSL certificates.

#2 Check website theme

A website’s theme can tell you a lot about its security. When you upload your files to a site, they’re no longer in your control. A website with an outdated theme is vulnerable to getting hacked all the time, so it’s only natural that they aren’t secure. Modern themes are safer because it takes advantage of more recent security protocols.

#3 Use security testing tools

You can get information about the security of a website using security tools, like browser plugins that alert you when a site is suspicious. There are many free tools to test the security of a site. Good antivirus software should also provide you with tools that could tell you whether a site is suspicious or even block you from visiting it. 

#4 Choose reputable translation services

When you hire a translation service for your business, it’s important to choose one with a good reputation. A trusted translation service will have the resources in place to keep your data protected while also delivering quality results.

#5 Check security seals

As a best practice, any site that has a security seal should also have a link back to the company that is offering the seal. It’s important to check this so you know you are dealing with an authentic company. This way, you will be able to conclude whether or not the service is legitimate.

It’s a good idea to search for the security seal online to see if you can find any other sites displaying the same seal. If you cannot find any other websites with that seal, that could be a warning sign. Some of the companies that offer legitimate security seals are SiteLock, McAfee, Trustwave and Qualys.

Data breaches are happening all the time. 49% of all American companies have experienced some form of a data breach. It’s that common and it’s very expensive with the average cost of a data breach being $3.86 million. Security seals minimize, if not eliminate, the risk of a data breach. 

#6 Read privacy policy

When dealing with a translation service provider, it is important to keep in mind the level of privacy it can provide. There are many instances where you have to provide the company with some of your personal details. Some companies ask for your name and address, while others ask for more sensitive information such as your passport number. You should check the privacy policy of the website first. This way, you will know what information about yourself is being collected and how it will be used. It will also help you to understand how they protect your data and the ways you can manage them.

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Following these best practices will help you ensure that your confidential and private documents can be translated without putting your business at risk. 

If your business depends on the safety of its documents, choosing the right translation services is critical. Data security and privacy should be a priority for any professional translation services you hire. Therefore, consider taking these simple precautions to ensure that it is.

Frequently asked questions

What are translation services?

Translation services are methods or solutions that can translate your content to another language of your choice. By translating your work, you can reach out to wider audiences, globalize your business, and possibly, bridge any linguistic barrier.

Is it better to work with a translation services company?

With professional translation services, you will get accountability with the results as opposed to individual freelancers. They are less vulnerable to hacks and breaches as such services often have the resources to protect your confidential data.

Are translation sites secure?

Companies that provide translation services normally have features on their sites that allow clients to upload documents for translation. Most if not all of these companies ensure that their sites and the documents uploaded there are secure.

Does Google Translate keep data?

By uploading your content on Google services, you give them a worldwide license to use your content to improve and promote their services. Their terms of services state that your content will remain yours but Google can use them.

Is Google Translate secure?

When you submit your content for translation, you are permitting them to use the content for prompting and improving their services. Although you still have rights over the data, it is no longer confidential and it might become vulnerable to unauthorized access and hacks.

What are the benefits of translation services?

The benefits of good translation services include:

  • reaching out to a wider audience across the world,
  • catering multilingual services,
  • understanding your global clients better,
  • appropriate translation of your content, and
  • keeping your confidential data safe and protected.


Author bio: Shashank Jain is the Technical Head of the Development Team at Tomedes, a professional translation services company that has assisted businesses in their globalization efforts. He has spearheaded the company’s tech-related campaigns, including data privacy and security.