5 Ways to Increase Point of Sale Security

POS Security

POS Security

Recent large-scale data breaches at major retailers have put a bright spotlight on the security of customer information, particularly when it comes to point of sale systems. Neiman Marcus, Target, and most recently Home Depot all revealed major breaches in the last year that affected millions of customers. While smaller businesses may not process the data of millions, they are still at risk of being targeted. In fact, small businesses are often at risk because they don’t have the resources of larger companies to put into security measures. No matter what size your company or your security budget, there are some steps you can take to protect your customers.

Point of Sale, Point of Breach

POS systems are often the target of hackers looking to obtain private information. After the breach at Target that left millions of customers’ information compromised, the company responded with an overhaul of their POS systems. The Neiman Marcus breach was the result of malware that had been installed by hackers in the sales system. Strong security measures surrounding your POS system can make all the difference when it comes to keeping your customer’s information safe, and these five tips can improve your POS security.

1. Upgrade Whenever Possible

The older the technology your POS system uses, the greater the chance hackers have figured out a way to get in. Use the best, most updated systems you can get, and update them as frequently as possible. Stay on top of any software upgrades for your systems, as they will address the most recent security concerns.

2. Restrict Internet Access on Business Computers

Use of computers to browse the web, use of social media sites, and other personal use of computers can expose your POS system to multiple threats. Make sure that all users understand the seriousness of these threats and restrict access whenever possible. Ensure that remote access is disabled so that no one can remotely access your systems.

3. Put Password Policies in Place – and Enforce Them

Strong passwords are one of the building blocks of good security. Never use default passwords; create passwords that are strong, complex, and difficult to guess; and change passwords regularly. Any third parties involved in your security systems should be as stringent about passwords as you are, and make sure they do not share passwords across customers. Restrict knowledge of the passwords to only those who absolutely require access.

4. Keep Customer Information Controlled

It may seem obvious, but stringent policies regarding how credit card information is processed and stored are key to POS security. Make sure that entire credit card numbers never appear anywhere, including receipts, and do not record PIN or CCV2 numbers. Use the best encryption technology to ensure that all data is being transmitted securely – data in transmission is at high risk of being intercepted.

5. Use Firewalls and Antivirus Software

The Neiman Marcus breach resulted from malware that allowed hackers to access credit and debit records. Securing your systems with strong firewalls and the best antivirus software can prevent hackers from accessing your sales system to install malware. Make sure to update your software regularly to protect against the latest weapons in the hacker’s arsenal.

Loss Prevention Tips for Restaurants: Solutions to Common Problems

Restaurant Solutions

Restaurant Solutions

Restaurants are at high risk for loss for many reasons, but employee-caused losses are among the most common. Unfortunately, it can be all too easy for activities like skimming of the till to take place, especially in busy restaurants with a large number of employees. While these losses are often in small amounts, they can add up to big problems for a business. However, by following a few tips and implementing a few procedures for monitoring and investigating employee activities, you can reduce your risk and losses that can impact your bottom line.

Control the Cash Flow

The fewer people who have access to the cash, the lower the odds that cash will disappear. Limit the number of people who have access to the cash drawer and cash as it is transported at the end of the day. When fewer people have access to cash and there is a clear chain of accountability, you can lower the opportunities for cash losses and ensure more scrutiny on the people who do have access. Employees are less likely to consider skimming the till if they know they are among a select few who will face scrutiny if there is a problem.

Install and Use Inventory Control Systems

While cash is often the area of focus for losses, in the restaurant industry inventory can be as much of a concern, if not more. Employees may be less likely to see it as a theft if they take something from the restaurant’s inventory, or they may not realize the impact of giving a free meal to a friend. Inventory control systems, used properly and linked to your POS system, can help you to see where losses are occurring so they can be addressed.

Supervision Is Key

Supervision of employees can come in two forms: electronic surveillance and the eyes of good supervisors. Both are important to loss prevention. Video surveillance and systems such as key cards and till login controls can all act as deterrents to employees who might consider skimming or other forms of theft. Having human eyes on the process, however, can help you to identify the things you might not catch via electronic methods. Trusted employees in supervisory positions are able to understand the situations that lead to loss and recognize the thefts that even employees might not realize are a problem, such as grabbing a drink a few times a day or giving a friend a free side dish.

Be Proactive: Train Properly, Praise Often

Training programs can help to stop losses before they start by ensuring all employees know what is expected of them and what the proper procedures are for handling cash and inventory. Thoughtful training can also help employees understand the consequences of their actions, both for the restaurant’s bottom line and for their own future.

It’s also important to note that employees who feel valued are less likely to consider skimming in the first place. Programs that show appreciation for your employees can go a long way to forming bonds of trust and preventing losses.

Bring in Outside Help

Loss prevention companies can take some of the burden of monitoring your restaurant’s inventory and cash transactions. Hiring an outside company to watch for red flags, handle surveillance, and examine inventory and transaction reports frees you to focus on proactive loss prevention – and the day-to-day running of your business. Because the company is installing and monitoring surveillance systems, you won’t have to dedicate time to learning them or to monitoring them yourself – and loss prevention companies have the experience to catch the problems you might miss.

Bookkeeping Made Simple: Integrating Point-Of-Sale with Your Accounting System

Integrating POS

Integrating POS

Integrating your accounting systems into one central system can ensure that everything works together and your books are as accurate as possible. While multiple different systems may have worked in the past, inconsistencies between them can often result in problems that start small and grow larger. Today’s integrated systems ensure that all of your records – from inventory to payroll – are in one place so that the information they contain can work together to help you stay organized and on track.

How Integrating POS Systems Saves Time

An integrated POS system can allow your sales and inventory to be in direct contact with each other via the same software. That means that updates are done in real time, which can avoid time being wasted when your current inventory doesn’t meet demand. An integrated POS system also prevents time wastes and potential errors entering the same information into multiple different software programs; the more times the info must be entered, the more likely errors will occur. A single software system means one central place to enter all of your company’s records, so errors are less common and everything is in a single location for easy reference.

The Cost of Integration

Many companies shy away from the step of moving to a complete accounting integration because of the cost involved. Naturally, adding new software and training employees to use it properly can incur extra cost, at least at first. However, after the initial cost of moving everything over and training your employees, the new software will cost less, create efficiencies, and prevent your company from losing money due to accounting errors and the sales losses due to the inability to update inventory in real time. Integrated software is an investment that provides savings in the long run.

Tracking Business Expenses and Income

Making the right decisions for your company requires an understanding of what’s really going on with your accounts payable and receivable. The more accurate and up to date that knowledge is, the better your decisions for the company will be. Ordering inventory, staffing, and other major decisions can hinge on a clear understanding of where the company’s inventory and financial status stands at any given point in time. Delayed information can result in decisions that may be detrimental to your company’s future.

Preventing Future Costs

Once all of your company’s books are integrated into one system, the cost of future changes can be minimized. It requires less IT staffing to maintain and update a single integrated system than it does to maintain, update, and introduce multiple software systems. That means less time and money spent on analyzing and selecting software. It also means fewer hours spent getting systems updated and running and ensuring that all of your staff are up to date on the changes. Integrated systems also result in less time spent on troubleshooting, since there is only one system and not multiple programs with potential problems.

A Better Customer Experience

An integrated system doesn’t only benefit your company and employees, it also benefits your customers. Access to updated, real-time inventory helps you make sales and satisfy customers, and fewer errors creates a better sense of trust. A better customer experience is always beneficial to your company, and integrating your POS system with your bookkeeping software can make all the difference when it comes to making sure your customers have confidence in your company.