Simple Steps For Keeping Records

POS Keeping records

POS Keeping records

For your business as well as your home, record keeping can be an important but often overwhelming task. Keeping good records is vital for running a successful business, and it’s essential for personal finances as well, especially at tax time. Keeping good records throughout the year, knowing what to keep and what to throw away – or shred – and when, will make tax time and fiscal year-end immeasurably easier. It will also keep you organized on a day-to-day basis.

Business and Personal Finances

Small business owners often find there is overlap between their business finances and their personal finances, especially when just starting out. To keep organized and avoid confusion, however, it’s important to separate business and personal records.

For most people, a system of record keeping that works for business will also work for personal records. Make business purchases through business accounts and credit cards to prevent financial overlap that can create trouble at tax time, and keep your records separate as well.

Steps to Simplify Record Keeping

Record keeping can be a simple process when done consistently and according to an established system. Follow these simple steps to create and maintain a record-keeping system at home or for your business that will keep you in control.

1. Select a System and Stick to It

Whatever system makes the most sense to you, choose one and stick with it consistently. If you are technologically motivated, purchase and use software to help you keep track of records. If you prefer to record things manually, use an accounting book. At home, you can choose to do the same thing, recording important information including transactions through a software program or by recording everything in a register or log. Remember that even once you record information, you may still need to keep original paperwork as evidence for tax purposes.

2. Record Things Regularly and Consistently

Nothing derails the organization of records faster than getting behind on the process. Choose a set day and time to sit down with your paperwork and complete the recording process. Keep to this schedule to avoid paperwork piling up into overwhelming chaos. Depending on how much there is to record, this may need to be done weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Choose the schedule that works best.

3. Keep Only What You Need, File What You Keep

Reduce the paper load by throwing away or shredding paperwork as soon as you no longer need to keep it around. At home, this can include throwing away receipts for small purchases, utility bills, and statements that can pile up. Both at home and for a business, it’s important to know how long certain paperwork needs to be kept, especially as it relates to taxes. Documents that need to be retained should be filed as soon as possible to get them out of the way and organized. You can reduce paper by using a scanner to create images of important documents – but be certain this information is backed up and secure.

Some paperwork can be cleaned up on a weekly basis, while other items may need to be kept through the end of the year or longer.

4. Keep Organized on the Go

Mobile apps can help you to record details of transactions everywhere you go. By downloading an app to your phone, tablet, or other device, you can keep up on record keeping no matter where you are. Another benefit of these apps is that many include cloud storage, so that you have a backup created – automatically in many cases.

As the National Archives notes, keeping good records is important not just for you, but for the government as well. Once you have an established system and you stick to it for a while, it will become easier to keep up with future records. While getting started and dealing with backlog can be difficult at first, in the long run things will run more smoothly for you both at home and at work.

Bird of Prey: Mobile Point-of-Sale Terminals Are Vulnerable to Hackers

iPhone POS Mobile payment

Mobile point-of-sale terminals or devices (also referred to simply as MPOS) make it possible for businesses to accept payments from their smartphones or tablets. Not only does this convenient option allow entrepreneurs to run their operations without buying heavy and expensive cash registers, it is also a major boon for people working in mobile businesses like taxi service or food delivery, where remote payments are the name of the game.

Unfortunately, the convenience of mobile point-of-sale terminals doesn’t equate to safety and security, and an MPOS can easily be hacked and customer payment information stolen, including card numbers, PIN information, and more. That was proved recently by researchers from the data security firm MWR Labs, who created a program called “Chippy Pin” to prove just how easily a mobile payment system could be compromised.

Chippy Pin itself was a bit of a joke, a simplified version of the popular “Flappy Bird” mobile game that could be played using MPOS payment terminals. At first glance, MWR Labs’ ability to upload a pixelated game to a payment terminal doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. After all, what’s the harm in playing a game like “Flappy Bird” – which requires players to navigate a small bird through narrow openings in walls – on an MPOS? If so many players use the game on their mobile devices, what is wrong with playing the game on a payment gadget that attaches to said mobile devices?

The problem, though, isn’t the game itself, but the ease with which MWR Labs representatives were able to upload it into the framework of an MPOS payment terminal. It goes without saying than an MPOS is not designed to play a challenging mobile game. Mobile point-of-sale systems have one main application, and that is to register customer card payments just like a cash register would.

But the ability of MWR Labs to upload their simplified “Flappy Bird” application to an MPOS – using various covert methods like USB, Bluetooth, and even “smart” cards to get the game’s code into the terminal system – shows hitherto unexplored vulnerabilities with the MPOS concept. If data security experts can manipulate an MPOS to the point where it plays a game that it was never designed to play, then it’s frightening to think of the ways in which a malicious hacker could take advantage of the same vulnerabilities.

With the right attack method, a hacker could take full control of an MPOS payment terminal, stealing payment information, fooling the terminal into thinking a payment has cleared when it hasn’t, or perhaps even redirecting payments to an anonymous account. The implications are varied and scary, and they’re enough to give every customer and business pause over the use of mobile point-of-sale devices.