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On December 16th, Brian Krebs had an interesting post on how "Russian Police Only Translate the Good News".  He explained how the Russian Interior Ministry (MVD / МВД) English language content is generically positive. To get a fuller picture of what's happening, you have to go to the Russian language content. (It is where I usually find MVD press releases about computer crimes.)

Brina Krebs also noted that Jeffrey Carr, who tracks cyber-conflict issues, noticed that Chinese government sites tend to do the same thing. Carr said, “If you want a starting point for finding out what’s really going on in these countries, you have to use something like Google translate."

Exactly so!

The Importance of Going Beyond English (or Whatever Language You Know)

Better yet, as you use tools like Google Translate, seek to learn the languages of the countries in which you're interested. If you can spend time time browsing their government and media sites to get a feel for certain keywords.

Look up up expressions of interests. For example, it can be helpful to get an idea of certain acronyms and jargon on the foreign sites. If dealing with Russian law enforcement & crime issues, knowing the acronym "ОПГ"  (OPG) for "Организованная преступная группа" (Organizovannaya prestupnaya gruppa" - Organised Criminal Group) can be useful. (Here's a useful Glossary of Russian Police & Security Service Acronyms and Abbreviations [pdf])

Google Chrome is an excellent browser since it gives an option for translating the page you are viewing and allows you to easily go back to the original. I left some some useful tips on a Vere Software blog post about Google Tools for Investigators. See its comment section.

For this and other reasons, I highly recommend that people studying and going into the info security field learn another language.

Which one? Depends upon your interests, but there is no absolute must-study. Russian and Chinese are particularly useful. Arabic and Farsi might be quite fitting for other security concerns. But there are some interesting info security happenings in Spanish, Portuguese, German, and other languages. Just learning another language, especially one that is quite different from your native language is, in itself, a big help. It helps you to be more open to still other languages and how to use various tools. (It also helps to learn the limitations of the tools.)

Regards
Jonathan D. Abolins

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Jonathan D. Abolins

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