The 5 Must-Haves For Secure Transcription

Left enterprise security peach

When you need a transcript your focus will understandably be on the accuracy and speed of the output, and the subsequent cost. 

But security has become priority number 1 in order to protect you, your clients, and participants.

Business transcripts typically include sensitive information, confidential or personal content – information that you need to keep safe. Whether you are running a commercially confidential focus group or conducting a sensitive HR meeting, the security of the transcription service should be a priority.

There are 5 must-haves for Secure Transcription. These can help you to identify suppliers that are suitable for your professional transcription requirements. 

  1. Minimal content exposure
  2. Technology-enabled transcription
  3. Secure online transfer
  4. Proven security & operating credentials
  5. Data storage & processing location

Secure Transcription minimises the risk at EVERY stage of the process, from when you first upload your file, to how your data is stored and managed once you’ve received your transcript.

You want a supplier who treats security as a priority, not an afterthought.

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Minimal content exposure

Human error remains a huge risk to data security.

A whopping 88% of data breach incidents are caused by employees’ mistakes¹. Although often not malicious or intentional, mistakes do happen. Limiting who has access to your data to the bare minimum helps to lower the risk, especially when used in combination with the other aspects of Secure Transcription.

Your content should only be accessible to the transcribers working on it, not to tens of thousands of freelancers across the globe. You might be surprised to learn that some companies make your content accessible to all of their transcribers rather than allocating it out to just those who will actively be working on it. Yes really. This creates a significant layer of unnecessary risk.

NDAs are commonplace and may be cited as protection in these circumstances. But, they alone don’t provide enough protection and they won’t prevent user error. Also, even with NDAs in place, they can be challenging to enforce across different territories.

So, remove the humans, remove the risk? Right?

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s not that simple. On the surface, Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR / speech to text software) might feel like a safer option as it implies that human access would be non-existent or very limited. However, ASR doesn’t equal minimal exposure. Your content could have exposure to support teams, or be used for machine learning development, quality control purposes or testing.

Technology-enabled Transcription

Technology can help to ensure data remains as secure as possible, especially where it minimises the opportunity for human error. Phew.

An encrypted software platform where your media is uploaded, accessed and transcribed provides a secure and controlled environment for your data. It also usually means a much nicer process for you. Utilising a platform for the whole end-to-end process minimises the risk, as your content only leaves the platform when you download it using your secure link.

Allowing transcribers to download content or use word processing software, such as Word or Google Docs, introduces unnecessary risk as it’s an uncontrolled environment. This approach means that you’re reliant on the security practices of the transcriber involved, who may not be operating to the same security levels your organisation demands. 

Secure online transfer

Another benefit of a secure platform is that you don’t need to rely on email. Despite the widespread reliance on email for many activities, it is not a secure platform. 

Email must not be used to send links or attachments to your content or to receive your transcript files back. Instead, a secure environment should be used for uploading content and receiving your transcript.

An additional benefit is that content files, particularly videos, tend to be pretty large, so you get the added bonus of not clogging up your email with huge audio and video files!

As well as the significant risk of human error, email accounts can become compromised and messages and attachments can be intercepted as they move between networks.

Removing email from the chain brings the transcription process in line with how you are likely advised to handle sensitive, confidential and personal information within your organisation. When the content leaves your organisation you want to make sure the same stringent rules apply. 

Proven security & operating credentials

It’s all too easy for companies to say that their processes are secure but you should look for evidence that they are meeting the standards that you require. 

ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certification is a great place to start as it demonstrates that a company takes security seriously and has invested in its systems and processes. An ISO certification is a seal of approval from an independent third party that a business is operating to the agreed international standard.  Some companies are over-reliant on their hosting company to meet these standards when it is their in-house processes that would be audited because so much of the risk arises from working practices.

Therefore in-house ISO certification and GDPR expertise is essential for transcription suppliers.

The peace of mind you can gain from knowing everything is being done to keep your data safe is priceless!

Data storage & processing location

Data protection laws and regulations vary across territories which means it’s vital to understand not only where the transcription company is based but also where the data will be hosted. You don’t want data to inadvertently be stored on overseas servers if you’ve agreed with a client it will stay within a certain territory!

By requesting this information you can ensure you know what regulations your data will be subject to and also that you are adhering to any contractual obligations you have in place.

As well as understanding the location of the data you also want to know what will happen to it after you receive your transcript.

  • How long will your content be kept for?
  • Where will the content be stored?
  • Who will have access?
  • What’s the process and timeline for permanent deletion?

When ALL 5 aspects of Secure Transcription are covered by a supplier you can feel confident that they are prioritising the security & confidentiality of your information. Don’t just take their word for it, look for the evidence.

Don’t risk your content being compromised, choose Secure Transcription.

¹Stanford University Professor, Jeff Hancock and security firm Tessian joint study

Kat Hounsell