Barbara Jungwirth of reliable translations llc writes about language and the business of translation.

New Year, New Files – Why My Shredder Runs Hot

Snowy Brooklyn
View from my office window

When New York City shut down for the blizzard that wasn’t last week, I finally had time to sort out old paper files. Since my clients’ information – including which projects I have translated or edited – is confidential, my paper shredder was getting a good workout. Given the threat of identity theft, I also shred any banking or financial information pertaining to my clients or to my own company. I keep paper files for 7 years (unless a client requests a shorter retention time), so I just cleaned out my box of 2008 files. Here is what I turned into confetti:

  • Clients’ purchase orders
  • Additional project information, such as terminology lists for projects where I didn’t use a CAT (computer-assisted translation) tool
  • Check stubs for payments received
  • Login information for clients’ online systems
  • Contracts with clients that either no longer exist or with whom I no longer work
  • Bank and credit card statements
  • Any other financial information

Much fraud and theft, of course, occurs online. Some of my clients guard against this threat by running their own secure servers to host the original documents and the corresponding completed translations. When I receive files via regular e-mail and am expected to return my work by the same route, there is little I can do to ensure that documents are not intercepted on the way to/from the client.

I can, however, secure the client’s files while I am working on them. To this end, I back up my work in progress to secure online storage provided by Norton, a highly respected anti-virus company. This allows me quick access to pending projects should my primary computer fail – which, in turn, ensures that I can deliver projects on time even in case of technological malfunction.

Norton also protects my computer with daily antivirus scans and automatic updates to their software. Such constant anti-virus vigilance prevents the malware often used in online theft or cyber-spying from infecting my computer in the first place.

What precautions do you take with documents that are sent to outside contractors, such as translators? What other measures would you like/do you require your contractors to take to safeguard the confidentiality of your information?