How To Protect Your Data When Using Transcription
There’s no such thing as taking data protection too seriously. When looking to partner with a transcription service provider, you need to be sure that your information stays safe and secure. If this is your first time being responsible for the safe transformation of an audio file into a transcript, you can be left wondering “how do I protect my data while using transcription services?”
The first thing you should do is get your transcription service provider to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA). If you ask, most will be happy to do this — if they aren’t, then this is a bad sign. Aside from an NDA, there’s not a lot you can do directly to secure your data. You, ultimately, end up relying on the policies and practices implemented by your transcription service provider.
Consequently, the best thing you can do to protect your data is to pick a partner who clearly cares as much about the security of your information as you do. To make the right choice, you need to understand what makes a transcription service secure. What follows are the main points that separate your ‘bog standard’ transcription service from those that will ensure the safety of your data. Luckily, it’s not that complicated and a little knowledge can spell the difference between a data breach and the outcome you need.
ISO 27001 & 9001 Accreditation
When you’re on a transcription company’s website, be sure to look for two specific ISO accreditations: 27001 and 9001. Essentially, these represent a set of international standards that assure a high-quality of service. Any company that has an ISO accreditation will have gone through a rigorous third-party formal assessment. You can feel confident that they conform to best practices and are capable of effectively handling data security.
ISO 27001 is all about information security management, while ISO 9001 is more about general management systems. When combined, they indicate that your provider will handle your data professionally, placing it in minimal risk. If you spot these accreditations, it is a good indication that you are in safe hands.
HTTPS Web Address and Encrypted Log-In Portals/Storage
If you want to drill in on one technical detail of the transcription process, encryption is the key component to keeping your data secure. Looking into encryption policies is the easiest way to differentiate between a secure transcription service and one that is operating to sub-par standards. This starts by looking at the URL of their website. You want to see an HTTPS web address, not an older HTTP one. HTTPS means that data exchanges between your browser and their webpage are encrypted — a great starting point for a secure data environment. If they’re still using an old HTTP address, that is a weak point in your communications and indicates that they care very little about data protection.
If serious about data protection, you should look even further. You want a company that stores data in an encrypted format and shares your data with transcriptionists using TLS or SSL encrypted log-in portals. This will help prevent information breaches from external and internal threats. If you see those types of encryption policies, you can feel quite confident that your data will be stored and transcribed without complication.
Be on the lookout for a service that can boast all of these security encryptions. The thing is, they’re not exactly difficult to implement, so a lack of them shows the provider just doesn’t see data protection as a priority.
Using Local Transcriptionists
The use of offshore transcriptionists is pretty common in transcription services. The nature of the industry makes it easy to engage with a remote workforce. This also allows transcription services to offer lower rates by decreasing their operating costs.
But, when it comes to security, these practices can leave something to be desired. Simply put, offshore services open you up to a lack of accountability and difficulty enforcing policies or pursuing breaches. Different countries have widely disparate privacy laws and distance can make it very hard to monitor behaviour.
Generally speaking, using local, professional transcriptionists is the safest option. Local to you can be important. But, from the standpoint of the transcription company, the use of local transcriptionists to them is what matters in terms of their ability to enforce internal confidentiality policies and transcription procedures. If you want to feel confident that their guarantees about security are just that (guarantees!), then you need to look for companies that use local transcriptionists. The increased enforcement mechanisms by themselves decrease the likelihood that anything untoward occurs.
Choose a Slightly More Expensive Service
Everyone wants to save money when paying for audio transcription services. But security isn’t free. For example, the lowest priced services almost always use an offshore workforce, limiting the practicality of any security guarantees that are made. Ultimately, transcription services need to make money. If you find a service that is much cheaper than average, you can basically guarantee that they have cut corners somewhere.
Security is one of those areas where, if nothing goes wrong, business can carry on as usual even if the solutions in place leave something to be desired. Unfortunately, that means that security can be the first thing to go when companies are looking to get a competitive edge with price points.
It is still important to look into the detail — a business might have higher fees but simply keep the extra money rather than investing it back into a better or more secure service. However, if you want to protect your data, then it makes sense to start with mid-range services and expand from that point. You don’t have to pay for the most expensive option out there, but look for something that’s a bit more than the cheapest. It is simply one indication that you’re dealing with a quality transcription service.
Summary: You Can Find Secure Transcription Services If You Know What to Look For
It is possible to find secure transcription services if you know what to look for. Thankfully, it’s not too hard to separate the best from the rest. Be on the lookout for ISO accreditations, HTTPS encryption & encrypted log-in portals/storage, along with the use of local transcriptionists. Yes, you will have to pay slightly higher transcription rates for a good level of security, but it’s more than worth it if security is something that you need. The best deal starts with a solution that works. Plus, you might be able to offset those extra costs by opting for longer turnaround times or ordering in bulk!