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Secure machine translation

According to the IBM XForce Threat Intelligence Index 2024, data theft and leaks were the top impacts, making up 32% of the incidents that IBM X-Force responded to in 2023. This trend underscores the critical need for secure information handling, especially in areas where sensitive data is frequently processed and translated.

Utilizing machine translation, particularly through free online services, carries substantial data privacy risks. Sensitive information may be vulnerable to unauthorized access and breaches due to insufficient security measures. This makes confidential business documents and government data vulnerable to exploitation.

In this article, we'll explain how simply uploading confidential information to a translator can lead to its loss. We’ll also provide tips on how to prevent this from happening.

Security risks of using free online translation services

Data breach example involving free service

In the heart of Norway, Statoil, a prominent oil company, bustled with daily operations and strategic communications. Employees exchanged sensitive documents, essential to the company’s operations and security. To bridge language barriers, they turned to, a free and seemingly convenient online translation service.

However, this decision soon led to unforeseen consequences. Little did they know, the translations performed on were stored in the cloud. In a digital age where information is readily accessible, these documents became vulnerable to anyone with a knack for simple Google searches. Within a short time, sensitive data, including passwords and crucial business communications, was exposed to the public eye.

The breach not only jeopardized Statoil's internal security but also highlighted a critical oversight: the lack of adequate security protocols when using online services. This incident served as a stark reminder of the potential dangers of free online translation tools, emphasizing the need for robust cybersecurity measures.

Cloud data storage

When you use free online translation services, the translated text is often saved in the cloud. If the service doesn't have strong security, this information can be easily accessed by people who shouldn't see it. While storing data in the cloud is convenient, it also comes with big risks. If the data isn't protected or the cloud service isn't secure, anyone can get to it. This is a huge problem for private or sensitive information that needs to stay confidential.

Use of translated information for training models

Many free online translation services use the text you enter to help improve their translations. This means any information you translate is stored and used to make their system better. While this can make translations more accurate, it also means your data is being saved and used in ways you might not know about. This can be a big privacy problem, especially if you are translating important business documents or personal information. Many people don't realize their text is being reused, which can lead to their private information being shared without them knowing.

Solutions to data leakage problems

Management of access

It's really important to make sure only the right people can use translation services, especially for sensitive information. Organizations should have rules that allow only safe and trusted translation tools to be used. This can be done by giving access based on job roles, so only people who need it can see and use important data. Regular checks should be done to see who is using these services and to make sure everyone is following the rules.

Certified services

Using translation services that have certifications like ISO27001 means they follow strict security rules. These certifications show that the service has been checked and meets high standards for keeping information safe. This means they protect your data from being accessed by the wrong people, keep it accurate, and make sure it stays private. Picking certified services helps prevent data breaches and ensures they follow important security laws.


When using translation services, it's really important to pick one that has end-to-end encryption. This means your data is turned into a secret code when it leaves your device, stays that way while being processed, and only gets decoded when it reaches the person it's meant for. End-to-end encryption protects your data from being seen or stolen by anyone else while it's being sent and stored. This makes it much harder for cybercriminals to access your sensitive information.

Private Cloud

If you need to use cloud services, choosing a private cloud is much safer than using a public cloud. A private cloud is only for your organization, so you have more control over how it works and can set up strong security measures just for your needs. Private clouds can have special security features like dedicated firewalls, systems that detect intrusions, and encryption to keep your data safe all the time.

Local Software

Using translation software on your own servers is safer because all the data stays inside your organization. This way, you don't have to send information over the internet to other servers, which can be risky. Your IT team can directly manage and watch over the security measures, making sure that sensitive information is protected during the translation process. This helps keep your data safe and secure.

How Lingvanex can secure your translations

Lingvanex makes sure your data is very secure with several safety steps:

  • Collecting data. The data we use to train and test our models is kept safe, and your translation data is never used for training.
  • Training models. We use firewalls, VPNs, and encryption (TLS/SSL) to protect data transfer and server access, stopping unauthorized access.
  • Using the service. Our models are stored securely and encrypted, so your translated text stays private.

For private servers, only authorized users can access the translated data. For on-premise solutions, all data stays on your own servers, with no access for our staff. For cloud solutions, user data is only used for translation right away and then deleted, keeping everything confidential and secure.

To sum it up

Using free online translation services can be dangerous because your data can be stolen or accessed by people who shouldn't see it. The data breach at Statoil shows how serious these risks can be.

To stay safe, it's important to use secure, certified translation platforms with strong encryption and good access control. Using your own servers or a private cloud also helps keep your data safe because it's all in one controlled place.

Lingvanex offers secure machine translation, protecting your data at every step, from collection to use. This keeps your information private and follows data protection rules.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What are the disadvantages of machine translation?

Free online services often store translated data in the cloud without robust encryption or security protocols, making it vulnerable to exploitation. Additionally, some services may use translated data to train their models, risking exposure of confidential information.

Is there a machine translation better than Google?

Yes, Lingvanex offers a more secure alternative to Google Translate. Lingvanex provides robust data protection at multiple levels, including data collection, model training, and usage. It ensures that client data is not used for training purposes, employs encryption, and offers options for on-premise and private cloud solutions to maintain the confidentiality of sensitive information.

How can security be ensured when using machine translation?

- Choose reputable and secure machine translation services known for robust security measures.
- Ensure that the data is encrypted during transmission to and from the translation service.
- Restrict access to the translation service to authorized personnel only.
- Remove or anonymize sensitive information from the text before translating it.
- Conduct regular security audits and compliance checks on the translation service.

What are the risks associated with using cloud-based machine translation services?

Using cloud-based machine translation services carries risks of data privacy breaches, security vulnerabilities, compliance issues, reliance on internet connection, and potential service outages.

What security standards are applied in the machine translation industry?

The machine translation industry applies security standards such as data encryption, access controls, compliance with data protection regulations (e.g., GDPR), and regular security audits to protect user data.

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