18. 1. 2021

Beware automated translation at the Edge!

A few days ago we received a strange bug report from one of our customers…

Ghost in the machine

A few days ago we received a strange bug report from one of our customers. When he looked at the filter values in the application he saw a very strange entry that appeared to be the result of some kind of data corruption. As we stand so strongly behind the information security and quality we provide at Datlowe we were obviously shocked at this seeming error and began a thorough investigation.

Mystery data

The specific issue at hand was that data entered into the system as ‘HLÁŠENÁ’ was being displayed in HAIDi as ‘V ROCE 2014’ as can be seen below.

Worryingly we could see no obvious relationship between the original values and the incorrect values displayed, ruling out simple bugs or unintended updates. At the same time, however, when we looked into the data itself in the backend everything was safe and correct with the original filter value ‘HLÁŠENÁ’ displayed as intended. Curiouser and curiouser.

Digital forensics

After confirming that the data was correct within our secure backend we began to search through the source code of the system. We found nothing. We then searched everywhere else we could think of for any mention of the text ‘V ROCE 2014’ – again without success. So despite a full team effort across all modules of our system the source of the bug remained a mystery. We needed some lateral thinking!

Elementary, dear Watson

Finally – after significant detective work from a member of our team – the answer turned out to be… elementary. Our customer had enabled automated translation of content in their Microsoft Edge browser and this was dynamically changing the content that they were seeing. It seemed that Edge was picking up data that did not need to be translated and therefore displaying a translation instead of the original data.

So while at the beginning we struggled to find any logical connection at all between the original and changed data, it turned out that there was a connection – just one that was really unexpected and thus hard to see!

Most importantly, while this made it appear as if HAIDi had showed the values incorrectly in reality everything was as safe and secure as it could possibly be. By turning off the automated translation the customer was able to return everything back to normal.

Conclusion – ‘ware the Edge

It seems that the translation engine used in Edge has a few hiccups. If you see any strange data being displayed in your applications then first check whether the browser is unnecessarily translating data fields due to automated translation being active.

How about you? Do you have any similar experiences with your customers? Were there any surprising bug reports or customer requests you’d like to share?