6 things to consider when disposing of old tech

Keeping your business current with up-to-date technology will give you a competitive edge. This involves not only acquiring new computers, servers, and other devices but disposing of the old ones properly. You can’t just dump old computers, smartphones, and other tech devices in the trash.

There are many options for what to do with your old tech. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but we’ve put together some things to consider as you clear out the technology clutter in your office.

Here are 6 things you should keep in mind as you dispose of old or outdated technology.

Money icon

1. How to make money

You can actually sell your old technology, even if you think it is woefully out of date. It’s a great option because it can help to defray the cost of your new technology, or simply the cost of hauling away old junk. There are many options for how to sell it. Some retailers take back their own products. For example, Amazon and Apple both have paid recycling programs so they can sell refurbished products to people looking for a deal.

You can also sell old gear yourself online, with tools like eBay and Craigslist, but make sure you are aware of typical scams so you actually get paid for your goods. There are also companies who will take your goods and turn them around for you. This is a great idea but you might make considerably less than if you sold them yourself. However, for many business owners, this latter option is worth it because it can be much less of a hassle.

Hand holding a heart

2. Helping out a good cause

If you’re not concerned about making money, then perhaps donating your equipment is more your speed. Even if your computers are somewhat old, they can still be used by several different types of organizations.

Shelters for people who have experienced domestic violence often take old phones and laptops to replace items that their clients had to leave behind, or to help with more secure and private communication. Additionally, schools, after-school & youth programs and religious organizations can often use older machines to run basic programs that help their participants.

Some donations may be tax deductible, so being generous in this way could still help you out on the financial side of things.

Recycle icon

3. Be eco-friendly

If your tech garbage is too broken or old to donate or sell, make sure you dispose of it in an eco-friendly manner. Give it to a certified e-waste recycler. Luckily there are several organizations that take most old electronics for safe disposal.

Most local Goodwill’s not only take donated equipment, put partner with Dell to recycle equipment they can’t resell. Another option is the electronics retail store, Best Buy. They take nearly everything. Other available resources include other retailers and perhaps even your local recycling and trash pick up service.

If you’re wondering what is available in your area, go to earth911. This is a great resource for anything you need to recycle. Make sure you give your unusable electronics to an organization that knows how to dispose of it properly!

4. Be especially aware of how you recycle hazardous materials

Some people might think that throwing an old mp3 player or a few batteries in the garbage isn’t a big deal, but it can have long-lasting consequences. Electronics that sit in a landfill can poison the environment with things like lead, arsenic and other environmental toxins.

That’s why it’s best to let someone handle the devices who really know how to safely dispose of them with the least impact on the environment. Even something as simple as throwing away batteries in the trash can have a negative impact, especially rechargeable or lithium batteries.

Some cities have special programs to help you recycle batteries with regular trash pick up, while others have special drop-off days so you can bring toxic household materials like batteries and paint for proper disposal.

Subscription services

5. Remember to cancel or transfer software subscriptions

When you give away your old computers, remember to transfer any software subscriptions. It’s more common these days to have a subscription for programs like Microsoft Office 365 or the Adobe Suite that require users to log in, than having machine specific licenses. Remember to deactivate any subscriptions on your old machines that you are giving away so you can reactivate them on your new devices and retain all the programs you need to use.

erase data

6. Erase data

Whether you sell, donate, or dispose of your items make sure to erase any information stored on them. This will protect your data from those who would use it for nefarious purposes. Many companies who sell refurbished products say they will erase your data, but it is really best for you to do it yourself to have peace of mind.

This is especially relevant if you are selling the machines yourself or if you are dumping them with an organization for recycling. You certainly wouldn’t want your data to fall into the wrong hands!

Contact your managed IT services provider for help upgrading your machines and disposing of your old ones properly.

5 data management best practices for small businesses

Data is the greatest asset for modern organizations of any size, and data management is key in running organizations smoothly. Business data can also be one of the greatest risks when left unprotected or inadequately managed. As the volume of data within businesses grows, so do the challenges of protecting and managing it.

“Knowing where your data is, how to manage it, who owns it, who has privileges to see and use it and what resources to feed it with … has become even tougher,” writes Forbes’ Adrian Bridgwater.

For small organizations, establishing effective governance practices is especially critical. Threat actors are more likely to target smaller organizations. Small firms are also less likely to recover from the disastrous financial consequences of a cybersecurity incident. Sixty percent of small businesses fail within 6 months of a cyber attack.

Effective data management for small organizations isn’t limited to information security. You must practice data lifecycle management, employee education and other efforts.

Comprehensive data management best practices reduce business risks, create new business models, and streamline employee workflows. Read on to discover a framework and use cases for a smarter take on data.

Practice comprehensive data governance

You can’t protect your data if you can’t access it, and you can’t mine business intelligence from inaccurate data. Data governance aligns people, processes, policy and technology to discover data assets.

A recent industry survey by ObservePoint found that organizations glean many benefits from data governance. Thirty-four percent of organizations report that governance results in improved decision-making. Other benefits of formal data management include:

  • Data quality
  • Compliance with privacy regulations
  • Operational efficiency
  • Company revenue

Adopt cloud solutions

As your business’ most valuable asset, your data must be accessible, defensible and recoverable. Migrating to the cloud offers flexibility, scalability and end-to-end business visibility through cloud enterprise resource planning (ERP).

Adopting a flexible, cloud-based core for enterprise resources planning allows for global access, unlimited scalability, automated updates and business continuity planning.

Develop a cybersecurity strategy

Small businesses at an elevated risk of cybercrime, but the relative costs of a data breach are also rising.

Firms that experience an incident can lose revenue, brand value and customer trust. They also pay legal fees and heightened insurance premiums. Protecting your employee and customer data requires a comprehensive and proactive cybersecurity stance against quickly evolving security threats.

Safeguard against insider threats

Your employees are your second greatest asset—and liability—after your data. Data leaks or losses from insider risks can be as costly as external threats. And insider risks can go undetected longer.

Teaching your employees cybersecurity best practices is critical for good data management. Providing employees with the least access possible can minimize the risk of errors.

Streamline operations

Effective data management for small business can reduce risks and improve quality. Moving to the cloud can also introduce access to an amazing suite of lightweight, integrated cloud apps for business process optimization. Time is money, and organizations can use business rules and data visibility to save time.

Several examples of how cloud apps can enhance productivity include but aren’t limited to:

Conclusion: Data management is a business opportunity

If you think you don’t need to focus on data management, you’re probably wrong. Every organization needs to put effective data governance at the forefront of its business strategy. Companies that effectively manage data have a competitive advantage.

As inside BigData writes, “organizations that have been able to adapt quickly to the demands of modern-day data management have created great opportunities to increase business value.”

Good data management involves knowing where your data is stored and who can access it. Moving to the cloud and adopting cloud-based ERP can pave the way for mobile apps and streamlined operations.


How to enhance Office 365 collaboration

Office 365 provides a variety of ways to let your employees collaborate effectively, whether you’re in a large enterprise or an SMB. However, in order to be effective, you need to develop and implement a collaboration strategy and the training that’s necessary to allow you to leverage the collaboration tools that are part of the Office 365 product.

Effective collaboration isn’t automatic

Recent research indicates that collaboration can have a very positive impact on productivity and business outcomes.

For example, a Stanford study found that participants working collaboratively stayed on task 64 percent longer than solitary workers did, and they reported a higher success rate. Another study found that companies that encouraged collaboration were five times as likely to be high performing.

This type of research is motivating many companies to jump onto the collaboration bandwagon by implementing software such as Office 365. However, when you complete an Office 365 installation, you’re asking your employees to change the way they work, not just the tools they use. As a result, many organizations migrate to Office 365 and then find that employees aren’t taking advantage of the collaboration tools. On the other hand, sometimes the tools are overused, usually in the area of social networking.

Either situation will cause your organization to waste your investment. In addition, you won’t get the benefit of increased productivity and better business outcomes that collaboration can produce.

horizontal line


RELATED: 8 simple Microsoft Office 365 best practices for making your documents more accessible

Why Office 365 collaboration isn’t automatic

Two factors influence the success of establishing Office 365 collaboration. One is the fact that employees must change the way they work. The other factor is that Office 365 is a multi-faceted system that can be overwhelming.

Here’s a summary of the services, apps, and features that you can use, depending on your Office 365 subscription plan.

Exchange Online Icon

1. Exchange Online

A hosted messaging application that includes access to email, calendars, contacts and tasks.

Microsoft booking icon

2. Microsoft Bookings

An application that allows you to schedule and reschedule appointments both internally and with customers.

Microsoft flow icon

3. Microsoft Flow

This cloud-based service allows you to build workflows to automate business processes.

Microsoft Forms logo

4. Microsoft Forms

You can use this to create quizzes, surveys, questionnaires and more; built-in analytics evaluate the results.

horizontal line

G Suite vs Office 365 – What’s the best office suite for business?

My analytics icon

5. Microsoft MyAnalytics

This application was previously called Delve Analytics; it provides personal data about how you spend your time and help you to prioritize.

Microsoft Planner icon

6. Microsoft Planner

Teams can use this tool to visually organize teamwork by creating plans, assigning tasks, sharing files, sharing and editing documents associated with tasks, and chatting.


7. Microsoft PowerApps

This Platform as a Service (PaaS) lets you create mobile apps without worrying about the difference in mobile operating systems.

Microsoft stream

8. Microsoft Stream

Allows employees to upload, view and share videos on a secure platform.

Sway Icon

9. Microsoft Sway

You can produce professional reports and presentations without the need for extensive formatting or training to achieve a visually appealing end product.

Microsoft Teams icon

10. Microsoft Teams

Teams is an application that provides a hub for teamwork, combining chat, shared content and various Office 365 tools into one workspace. SharePoint and OneNote are included.

horizontal line

Microsoft matches Slack with a free version of its Teams chat app

Microsoft groups icon

11. Office 365 Groups

This feature creates a shared workspace where group members don’t need access to Dynamics 365 to join.

Delve Icon

12. Office Delve

A cloud-based service that helps users discover information across several Microsoft products.

Microsoft One Drive

13. OneDrive

A cloud storage capability allows users to store, sync and share files among themselves and with other internet devices.


14. Power BI

These business analytics tools connect to hundreds of data sources and simplify data preparation to produce and publish reports.


15. SharePoint Online

A cloud-based service that provides a hub for accessing internal or outside information.

Skype for business icon

16. Skype for Business

A unified communications platform used for a wide variety of communication vehicles including instant messaging, online meetings, video conferencing and more.

Yammer icon

17. Yammer

This private social network allows for discussions internally and with outside users such as customers and vendors.

How to Promote Office 365 Collaboration

Based on the review of Office 365 capabilities above, it’s easy to see how effective collaboration can get lost in the rush of new technology that follows an Office 365 implementation. Therefore, take these steps to help solidify a collaborative workplace.


Define an Office 365 collaboration environment

Determine how collaboration needs to work in your organization and select tools accordingly.


Communicate the vision

Take a top-down approach to communicate the vision to everyone that will be affected by increased collaboration, identifying the tools that will be used.


Complete the implementation/migration

Choose the right Office 365 subscription to acquire the right options for your organization. In addition, pay particular attention to mobile requirements that may require customization.

horizontal line


USEFUL TIPS: 4 steps to drive Microsoft Office 365 adoption in your organization


Conduct ongoing training

Without extensive training, collaboration will get out of control. In fact, some employees will often turn to third-party tools to get the job done, even if they’re not using the right tools. You need to train on the correct types of collaboration and enforce abandoning other tools.


Monitor activities and results

You’ll need to know if employees are using the new collaboration tools. Be prepared to identify and address issues such as email distribution of document drafts rather than shared editing. Measure your progress to inform future projects.


Establish a strong administrative function

The Microsoft 365 Admin Center is the place to manage users, devices, apps, and services. Large organizations will often prefer to use the Office 365 PowerShell. A strong administrator will help ensure that Office 365 is being used to its fullest potential.

Next Steps

Experts often cite Microsoft Office 365 as the most powerful collaboration suite on the market today. There are a variety of tools to support implementing collaboration in a way that specifically suits your organization.

Careful planning and a well-controlled migration will help your business grow.

Why a business continuity plan is essential

What can an ostrich teach you about business continuity? As it turns out, a lot.

In their book, “The Ostrich Paradox: Why We Underprepare for Disasters,” authors Howard Kunreuther and Robert Meyer make the case that ostriches get a bum rap. The classic image of the big bird with his head in the sand gives the impression that ostriches deal with risk by ignoring it.

In reality, ostriches do a pretty good job of mitigating risk. They can’t fly, but they can run at amazing speeds. They can also kick hard enough to kill a lion.

The trick to disaster preparation is to approach it like an ostrich. Know where you’re susceptible to loss and counter those potential weaknesses with a solid plan.

Heads in the Sand

Three out of four small businesses have no disaster recovery plan at all. Unpleasant though it is, think about that for a moment.

There are innumerable things that can go wrong. Natural disasters are both unpredictable and potentially catastrophic. Fire can raze a building to the ground. Viruses can bring networks to their knees. A data breach can expose your entire system.

Disaster comes in all shapes and forms. No business is immune, regardless of size, legacy or location. And a lack of preparation can be devastating.

The High Cost of Downtime

Of the organizations without a business continuity plan, 90% permanently close their doors within one year of a disaster.

The real killer here is downtime. Consider what it would cost if your business grinds to a halt. Just one day of downtime could leave you reeling for weeks, throwing off profitability and productivity for the entire organization. By one estimate, downtime costs small businesses up to $8,600 per hour.

Unfortunately, that’s just one aspect of the cost. Downtime also impacts employee satisfaction, which in turn impacts productivity. And then there’s your reputation to consider. How will your customers feel about you if given the impression that you aren’t reliable?

Business Continuity in Action

By contrast, organizations with robust business continuity plans stand out when others struggle. That’s because a business continuity plan allows you to bounce back, whatever the nature of the disaster. It’s a failsafe you hope you never have to use, but one that can literally save your business.

There are three advantages that come with a business continuity plan.

First, you’re protected against the losses associated with downtime. For example, employees can log in remotely, able to work even if your office isn’t accessible. Automated tasks continue to perform. Your customers aren’t left in a lurch, suddenly without your services. Instead, you’re able to continue doing business, even in the midst of a genuine crisis.

Second, your data is safe. Any solid business continuity plan will include some form of backup and recovery option. That means even if every hard drive in your office simultaneously stops working, you don’t lose a single spreadsheet.

Finally, you get the intangible (but powerful) benefit of peace of mind. You won’t have to worry about worst case scenarios. Rather, you’ll know that even if disaster hits, you’re ready for it.

Creating Your Business Continuity Plan

Developing the kind of business continuity plan that provides real protection takes some know-how. This isn’t one of those times a do-it-yourself approach will suffice. You want someone with serious credentials to walk you through the process, ensuring every base is covered.

CCS Technology knows disaster recovery. We’ll take the time to understand how your business functions. From there, we’ll put together a plan that takes into account every kind of contingency. Should the unthinkable happen, you’ll be in the best possible position: prepared.

Maybe it’s time to put together a business continuity plan for your organization. If so, we’re here to help.


Office 365 migration made easy

Go into any mechanic’s garage and you’re going to find a common set of tools. There will always be a socket wrench, for example. No one who works on cars can function without one. It’s essential.

Office productivity tools are no different. You can’t do business without email and some form of a word processor. For an overwhelming number of folks—more than 1.2 billion users—the go-to productivity suite is Microsoft Office.

Cloud-based applications are on the rise

Most likely, you already have experience using Microsoft’s suite. Programs like Word, Excel and PowerPoint are common fixtures in businesses both great and small. However, there’s a significant shift in how these applications are being implemented and utilized.

An increasing number of businesses are putting heavy emphasis on cloud technology. In fact, recent analysis indicates that 90% of organizations use the cloud in some way, with 50% using cloud services as their preferred solution.

Simply put, the cloud is changing how business is done at a fundamental level, and Office 365 is a major player in the move to cloud-based services. While there are other cloud tools out there—most notably, Google’s G Suite—Office 365 is currently the most used collaborative platform on the market.

Why Office 365?

It’s hardly surprising to learn Microsoft’s offering takes the top spot. The advantages of Office 365 are considerable.

First, there’s the convenience. With Office 365, you can work and collaborate with team members from any connected device—even your phone or tablet. For business leaders on the go, that alone is invaluable.

Second, documents, spreadsheets and email messages housed under the umbrella of Office 365 are backed up in the cloud. Users can access everything from their desktop computers, just like older versions of Microsoft Office, but redundancy is also baked in. If you’ve ever dealt with any kind of data loss, you know how important backups are.

Finally, the cost savings can be compelling. Many organizations are able to justify migrating to Office 365 based purely on the numbers. This is due in part to the scalability of the platform. Microsoft offers multiple subscription options for Office 365. You just have to pick the plan that works best for your organization, isolating the products and services you need.

Additionally, adding new users to your subscription is a breeze. For companies in growth mode, Office 365 provides an easy, cost-effective way to make sure new employees have the tools they need from day one.

Migrating to Office 365

Perhaps the biggest hurdle to adopting a new software solution is the anticipated pain of making a change. Some organizations have a history of hiccups, even when just moving from one version of a program to a newer version of the same program. Moving to an entirely new solution is understandably off-putting.

Speaking frankly, who cares about improvements in efficiency in the long-term if an update puts you out of commission for weeks right now? The migration from your current solution to Office 365 has to be smooth to be worth it.

The good news is a hassle-free Office 365 migration is entirely possible. Whether you’re only migrating your email to Microsoft Exchange or planning to incorporate the full Office Suite, getting your organization online and up to full functionality doesn’t have to bring daily business to a grinding halt.

The key is working with an experienced, knowledgeable partner who can guide you through the process.

Migration done right

At CCS Technologies, our guiding philosophy is simple. Every part of the technology experience should be convenient and efficient, including upgrades and migration.

Our goal is to take the headaches out of IT services by delivering fast, effective solutions. We’ve completed full migrations to Office 365 in as few as seven days. And when migration is done, we’ll still be here, ready and able to provide ongoing support.

You can’t achieve success without the right tools in your toolbox. Think of us as your tool provider. When it’s time to move your organization to the cloud and take advantage of everything Office 365 has to offer, we’ll be happy to guide you through the process.

Get in touch with us today to let us know how we can help.

Cloud services and the SMB revolution

The word “revolution” gets more than its fair share of airtime.

Whenever something undergoes even moderate change, it seems there’s always someone standing by, ready to declare it a revolution. It probably has something to do with our American roots. The idea of an idealistic uprising stirs something deep within us.

And yet, this is one time when the word is totally applicable.

For decades, SMBs have faced a common set of obstacles. Sustaining and growing a small business has always required a delicate balance of resources. It still does, but cloud services are shifting the nature of that balance at a fundamental level.

Think of it like rolling a pair of dice. (Any SMB owner will tell you running a small business feels like a bit of a gamble.) What if you could swap the regulation dice you’ve been using for a weighted pair? New dice that are more likely to land on the numbers you want? The numbers you need?

Cloud solutions make that possible. They’re loaded dice you have license to use.

Savvy small business owners know it, too. It’s estimated that by 2020, 78% of all SMBs will rely on the cloud for core functionality. We’re not talking about a minor boost in convenience. This is transformational stuff. It has the potential to reshape how your organization operates, giving you advantages that SMBs have never had before.

Employee using a laptop


Cloud solutions are loaded dice you have license to use.

Big business agility

Small businesses have never been able to compete with large corporations when it comes to infrastructure. How could they? A “modest department” at an enterprise-level organization might have a staff of more than 100. A company with a few dozen employees simply doesn’t have the people to keep up.

But the cloud is changing that.

It’s no longer essential to build out your own internal solutions. There are cloud services out there that give SMBs the kinds of tools that Fortune 500 companies have had for decades, including the ability to dynamically adapt on a moment’s notice. What’s more, strategically chosen cloud solutions will work together, offering small organizations cohesion across every service.

The floodgates have opened. Today’s SMBs have access to tools that were once the exclusive domain of big business.

The 50 best cloud services for SMBs

Super-charged support

When SMBs embraces the cloud, they don’t just get the advantage of more agile tools. They get a huge upgrade in support, as well.

Cloud solutions are rarely offered like off-the-shelf products. If there are issues with functionality, there’s always an avenue for requesting support. Cloud services providers can’t afford to ignore bugs, glitches or missing features. Their services aren’t free, and commercial customers rightly expect the investment to pay off.

The good news here is that you can count on cloud applications to be reliable. They have to be, or providers won’t last. And because your business is one of many relying on any given cloud solution, the back-end support is typically robust.

Issues are rare, and when they happen they’re dealt with quickly.

Improved innovation

The emerging cloud model makes it possible for SMBs to offload a lot of routine-but-necessary tasks—everything from accounting to resource management. There are cloud services that incorporate automation, direct support, or a hybrid of the two.

That means you don’t have to use your most valuable resource (your people) to manually manage those services in-house.

Here’s where the real power of the cloud comes into play. When your people are free to plug into more productive, ground-breaking work, your business is poised to explode. The most successful companies, big and small, cultivate a culture of innovation. That’s only feasible if your organization finds ways to be efficient, freeing your staff to unlock their creativity.

Cloud solutions can make that happen.

Cloud services are extremely efficient.

Taking your business to the cloud

The benefits of utilizing cloud services are there. The key to making them work for your business lies in finding the right solutions in the right combination.

Your managed IT services provider (MSP) can help with that.

After all, your MSP already knows how your company operates. These are the folks who understand what makes your business tick. They should be able to find a complete set of cloud solutions tailored specifically to your needs.

And if you don’t already have a managed IT services provider, now is a good time to find one.

As we observed at the beginning of this whitepaper, running a small business can feel a lot like gambling. But it doesn’t have to. You can have your very own set of loaded dice, shifting the odds in your favor.

Isn’t it about time?

The most common SMB cybersecurity threats and how to protect your business

The headlines may spend more time focusing on data breaches suffered by enterprises and other large companies, but that doesn’t mean hackers have forgotten about small businesses.

The typical data breach costs small businesses $117,000, which can take a big chunk out of your operating budget. Plus, you have to account for the cost of disaster recovery, informing consumers about the breach, paying for security audits, and dealing with the reputation loss.

Approximately 60% of small businesses never recover from a cyberattack, instead going out of business. Understanding and proactively addressing SMB cybersecurity threats puts you in a position to protect your business.

Alert Icon


You most likely already familiar with the term “malware.” Malware is a malicious application that can help hackers get into your network, hijack your computers or cause system problems. Ransomware is a specific type of malware. It makes it possible for a cybercriminal to take complete control of your data and hold it for ransom.

Ransomware relies on encryption, so you can’t just turn off one computer and move to another. Instead, you have to restore from a  backup or pay the attackers to get your data back.

You see ransomware frequently mentioned because it’s a profitable way for hackers to bring in revenue. You can reduce the potential damage of a ransomware attack with a robust backup, which allows you to restore your systems without paying anything.

Alert Icon

Social engineering and phishing

A common portrayal of a hacker is someone furiously typing, trying to find the right username and password combination to get into your network. In reality, they may end up getting unintentional help from the people in your organization.

Phishing takes place through email. The would-be hacker sends malware through emails that look legitimate. The victim ends up opening the file and downloading the malicious file on their workstation.

Social engineering is a broad term that describes situations where the hacker manipulates people to get the result that they want. For example, they can pretend to be a person in a different department and use that fake identity to access resources they should not have access to.

One way to protect against the people skills of certain charismatic hackers is to give the entire company training that explains the situations they may encounter. You don’t need everyone to have an IT specialist’s level understanding of cybersecurity, but you do want them to know what they’re looking for.

Hacker Quote

Alert Icon

POS viruses

If you have a physical retail location, your point of sale systems may be at risk of getting hacked.

POS viruses are loaded directly onto this equipment, typically by leveraging some sort of security loophole or breach. They can access credit card information, customer addresses and other personal data. (It’s also worth mentioning that POS terminals should be separated from any connections to office workstations and other devices to avoid malicious data injection/hijacking.)

Limit the chances of this cybersecurity breach from happening by staying up to date on operating system and firmware updates for your POS. Talk to your vendor to see whether they have other security recommendations in place.

Alert Icon


A distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack overwhelms your network’s capacity and causes your resources to crash and become inaccessible. DDOS attacks often leverage botnets of compromised devices, making so many server requests that your server simply can’t handle them.

Or, in plain English, the hacker overwhelms your server, which keeps it from working.

Sometimes bringing your systems down is the entire point of a DDOS. In other cases, the hackers use a DDOS to try to identify other vulnerabilities that they can use to gain access to your systems.

A proactive cybersecurity system can help you stay ahead of a DDOS attack. The affected IP addresses can be blocked. Or you can spread the traffic over multiple servers to stop the spike in requests from bringing everything down. You might even resort to backup servers that are distributed elsewhere, such as a cloud-based resource.

Alert Icon

SQL injection

Many web applications depend on SQL databases to store data. They can’t function without having access to this valuable digital asset.

An SQL injection introduces malicious tables into your databases that could lead to data breaches, unauthorized access and other problems. SQL injections can happen due to unpatched software or forms that fail to sanitize user-submitted fields. If you don’t realize that your database has been breached, then you may end up getting attacked multiple times without finding the culprit.

Keep your SQL databases updated and audit them frequently. Look over all of your forms and confirm that any code gets removed from the text fields before it reaches the database. Preventative maintenance can stop a lot of SQL injections in their tracks.

Alert Icon

Internal bad actor

The most significant threat could come from within your organization. Employees sometimes work in concert with “bad actors” or an employee could even be a “bad actor.”

What’s a bad actor? Someone who wants to breach your security and compromise your data. Sometimes this happens when an employee is working for the competition. Other times they may be disgruntled and upset at the company.

While it’s difficult to protect against malicious individuals who have leadership positions in your organization, you can easily limit what lower level employees can do. Use a robust user account management strategy to control permissions and stay on top of deactivating user accounts when necessary.

Your company’s HR department, if you have one, also needs a streamlined process for firing employees that limits how much damage they could do on your network before leaving.

Preventative protection can stop most SMB cybersecurity attacks before they start.

Stay a step ahead

Cyber attacks are a threat to companies of all sizes. Keep your SMB protected by exploring these methods for staying safe and reducing the risk of a data breach.

No cybersecurity strategy is 100% effective, but you can put yourself in a position where you minimize your risk profile.

Your definitive guide to business data: How to keep it alive, mobile and meaningful

Here’s what we’re going to cover:

    1. Keeping your data alive (AKA cybersecurity)
        1. Covering the basics
        1. Software protection
        1. Hardware protection
        1. Human error protection
      1. Worst-case scenario protection
    1. Keeping your data mobile (AKA remote access & collaboration)
        1. The right tools for the job
        1. The power of BYOD
      1. Mobility tips, training and feedback
  1. Keeping your data meaningful (AKA analytics)
      1. Slice and dice
    1. Connecting the dots

Boy, you said it, Andy. The whole world, including your business, is one big data problem. Then again, as Aaron Koblin pointed out, “I think you can have a ridiculously enormous and complex data set, but if you have the right tools and methodology then it’s not a problem.”

And that’s what this article is all about—turning your business data problems into strategic business advantages. In order to accomplish that, we’re going to explore how to keep your data alive, mobile and meaningful.

Or, if you prefer business-speak, we’re going to look at cybersecurity, remote access, collaboration, and business data analytics.

Keeping your business data alive (AKA cybersecurity)

Cybersecurity breaches make headlines on a regular basis. So often that we’re getting used to hearing about them—when they happen to someone else. The moment your business data falls prey to cybercriminals, it’s a whole different story.

Let’s keep that from happening so that your business data remains safe and secure.

Covering the basics

Basic cybersecurity is a fairly easy thing to accomplish. You don’t have to be an IT professional to make sure your business has the most essential protection. You just have to know what’s needed.

You need four things:

  1. Software protection
  2. Hardware protection
  3. Human error protection
  4. Worst-case scenario protection

Know the terms

It’s also smart to have a working knowledge of some of the most common forms of cyberattack. Ransomware headlines are meaningful because you know what ransomware is. But if there are other forms of attack you don’t know (for example, social engineering or SQL injection), you won’t keep an eye out for new information about them.

We have a guide that covers the most common forms of cyberattack. It’s definitely worth the few minutes it will take you to read it.

Software protection

Antivirus and anti-spam programs are practically a given on any network these days, personal or professional. If you don’t already have both kinds of protection for your company’s network, get on that. There are plenty of good, affordable options out there.

The harder work of software protection rests squarely on your shoulders—or on the shoulders of your managed IT services partner, if you have one. We’re talking about updates.

Those annoying notifications you get about various programs needing a patch or an update? Yeah, those are actually really important if you’re committed to protecting your business data.

Software manufacturers often include beefed-up security in software patches. In fact, the WannaCry virus that made headlines in 2017 took advantage of Windows vulnerabilities that Microsoft had already addressed (you guessed it) in a previous software update.

Hardware protection

Hardware protection runs the gamut from using business-appropriate equipment (like routers designed for commercial use) to sophisticated, encryption-enabling servers that make business data nearly untouchable. The former is easy to stay on top of as long as you’re paying attention, and you probably don’t need to worry about the latter.

Additionally, there are all kind of hardware issues you can likely address on your own. While there will undoubtedly be times when a bit of professional help is warranted, the most common troubleshooting techniques (the ones the pros will use first) aren’t shrouded in mystery. On the contrary, anyone can do basic troubleshooting.

Consider checking out common computer problems you can fix yourself before accruing any billable hours with your MSP.

7 interesting tech facts you might not know

Human error protection

Here’s a brutal truth. Software and hardware protection can only take you so far. And unfortunately, human error can completely wipe out the protection even the best hardware and software can provide. One employee mistake can literally expose all of your business data.

And that’s to say nothing of actual internal threats. Even small businesses need to keep their guard up against malicious insider activity. One way to do that is to make sure everyone on your staff knows what to keep an eye out for.

Said another way, employee cybersecurity training isn’t a luxury. It’s a vital necessity.

If you’re not sure how to get started with employee training, check out our guide. It’ll walk you through the high-level ins and outs of an employee training program aimed at cybersecurity and data protection. Additionally, we recommend that you train your staff on some of the most common cybercriminal tactics, like phishing, social engineering and spoofing.

If your employees know about these devious tricks and how to avoid them, your business data is far more likely to remain safe.

Worst-case scenario protection

Okay, so it’s obviously better to stop a business data breach than to deal with one after the fact. That said, there are no guarantees. Cybercriminals are a resilient bunch. We find ways to stop ‘em dead in their tracks, and they bounce right back with newer, sneakier, more sinister ways of breaking into your network.

So you need a backup and disaster recovery (BDR) plan. The goal of a BDR is to minimize downtime, getting you back into productivity mode as soon as possible in the wake of any kind of network failure.

In addition to your BDR strategy (sometimes also called a business continuity plan), we recommend developing plans for deleting old data, retiring out-of-date hardware, and annual reviews of your technology to ensure you have all the protection you need.

Keeping your business data mobile (AKA remote access & collaboration)

Cloud computing has changed the way we handle business data in profound ways. The cloud offers secure options for storing even massive amounts of data combined with the convenience of anywhere, anytime access.

Mobility is where it’s at. Here’s what you need to know to stay connected to your data on the go.

The right tools for the job

First and foremost, you need the right technology solutions. Broadly speaking, these come in two forms: data storage and mobile-ready apps. However, in an increasing number of cases, the line between those two categories is pretty blurry.

Take Microsoft’s OneNote as a prime example. Included as a core component of Office 365, OneNote is a ridiculously robust note-taking and organization tool, complete with online access and collaborative sharing. We’re fans. In this single tech tool, you have both remote business data storage and a user-friendly interface designed for mobility.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In addition to relatively basic (but extremely convenient) tools like OneNote, there are some sophisticated business data management solutions that are just as mobile-friendly. Not that long ago, it would have been hard to envision something as robust as a CRM or ERP in the cloud. Today, both classes of software are just as remotely accessible as email.

The power of BYOD

BYOD stands for “bring your own device.” Even if you don’t realize it, you probably already work in a BYOD environment.

Any time any employee connects any device they own to your network to access business data, that’s BYOD. That includes smartphones and tablets. If any of your employees check work email from their phones, that’s BYOD in action.

BYOD is great. It keeps your staff engaged and productive, even when they’re not in the office. However, it also has the potential to expose your business data to potential breaches. We recommend that you develop a formal BYOD policy that includes specific guidelines to ensure your employees don’t inadvertently compromise your security.

Mobility tips, training and feedback

We’ve already touched on several of the mobility-ready tools out there that can take your company’s productivity to the next level. Anything that allows your employees to access business data on the go has the potential to boost productivity—provided they know how to use those tools.

Similar to cybersecurity, we recommend that you take an active role in training your staff on the pros, cons and best practices of remote access. Give them practical, hands-on tips and tricks, encourage them to share what works for them, and stay engaged.

It would be a shame to learn that super-expensive mobility software you’re paying through the nose for is basically worthless . . . but a much cheaper alternative would have been perfect.

Keeping your business data meaningful (AKA analytics)

Having a lot of business data isn’t enough. So you’ve got spreadsheets full of stats? So what? What matters is what you do with all that data.

Slice and dice

In business-speak, the strategic use of your data is referred to as Business Intelligence (BI). You could utilize BI to determine where there are bottlenecks in your supply chain. Or who your most profitable customers are. Or even predict future buying trends, taking into account variables like seasonality, weather, activity in related markets, and even the political atmosphere.

Real world examples of BI in action are compelling and exciting. They show us just how powerful data analytics has the potential to be. And while your SMB may not be ready to dive into the deep end, there are almost certainly ways you can use BI.

Putting BI to work for your company is simply a matter of digging into your business data in meaningful, actionable ways. When you know how to listen to the story your data tells, you’ll begin to get an idea of how you could use that data to stay ahead of the curve.

Connecting the dots

Now you’re on your way. Your data is safe and secure, you can get to it from anywhere, you’ve got convenient tools for recording, accessing and analyzing it, and you know what kinds of trends to look for in the data so you can take action based on your analysis.

This is where things get fun.

If you’re in the manufacturing or distribution field, for example, this is the point where you can begin to leverage your ERP business data to make meaningful changes to your entire process. Those changes can result in greater efficiency, lower cost, faster turnaround times, and easier internal communication.

Or what about the impact on customer relationships, regardless of the industry you work in? Modern CRM software can help you manage your sales funnel, upsell current customers, address customer complaints, and even maintain automated communication with your customer base. Just make sure you choose the right type of CRM for your business—one that meets your needs and gives you the strategic tools to move your business forward.

This is where the rubber meets the road—and where you start to see the very real bottom-line impact of effective business data analysis.

How managed IT services helps SMBs fire on all cylinders

What separates a good company from a powerhouse performer? How are some organizations able to consistently outperform the competition? Is there a quality that launches a select few to legendary status while others simply make ends meet?

The Excellence Factor

John W. Gardner is credited with saying, “Excellence is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.” If there’s a secret ingredient to success, that’s it – the pursuit of excellence.

While there are dozens of ways an organization can double-down on the pursuit of excellence, IT solutions are often an untapped resource. And yet, in today’s business climate few things make or break a company like how you use technology.

Your Untapped Resource

Each year, the SMB Group researches the most compelling technology trends for the next 12 months. Their 2017 report includes this stunning assessment: “72% of SMB decision makers say that technology solutions can help them significantly improve business outcomes and/or run the business better.”

If you’re looking for ways to make your business better, technology is an area you can’t afford to ignore.

Managed Services Make The Difference

One of the most powerful ways you can start giving yourself an edge is by working with a managed services provider.

In IT-speak, “managed services” simply means partnering with an industry professional for the maintenance and upkeep of your in-house network. Whether your company has a dedicated IT department or not, a managed services provider can help you leverage technology in ways that give you the upper hand.

Top 4 benefits of an MSP

A recent article from Forbes highlighted four specific ways managed services transform small and medium-sized businesses: “improved operational performance, reduced operational risk, cost avoidance and accelerated innovation.”

Said another way, managed services give SMBs a way to operate leaner while taking advantage of the very same technology tools big business uses each and every day.

And if cost savings and ROI aren’t enough to grab your attention, how about this? Partnering with a managed services provider will make your life easier, too.

The Managed Services Advantage

Working with a managed services provider is like calling in a superstar pinch hitter. You get all the benefits of the MSP’s expertise, but without the cost or growing pains of building out that level of support in-house.

The benefits are compelling. For example, consider the negative impact of network downtime. If your systems go offline, you’re dead in the water. Your people can’t work. Every minute you’re down is money out of your pocket.

When surveyed, over 40% of employees report a significant amount of wasted time due to technology related frustrations. It’s difficult to overstate the value of stability.

In contrast, a reputable MSP can ensure uptime. By taking care of updates and upgrades on your behalf, your MSP partner is actually solving problems before they have a chance to slow you down. Managed services keep you in top performance mode.

Wasted Time Stat

What’s more, managed services can be customized to suit your needs with ridiculous precision. As you grow, your MSP can facilitate equipping new employees with the right technology. If you need additional storage space, no problem. Upgrades can be handled by submitting a ticket. Whatever your IT support need, you’re covered.

If you already have IT personnel on staff, working with an MSP is still a smart move. The MSP can focus on the monotonous (but necessary) task of keeping your network up and running while your folks tackle more innovative (and ultimately, more profitable) projects.

Freedom to Focus on You

Partnering with a managed services provider is about making your life easier. That’s certainly the philosophy behind how we work at CCS Technology.

Your IT solutions should always feel like an asset. At work, technology tools should enable you to do your job without getting bogged down. And when you’re away from the office, the last thing you want is to put out fires because there’s been some kind of IT emergency.

CCS Technology clients get what all of us want: freedom.

orange rocket

Freedom to focus on revenue-generating projects instead of maintenance and upkeep. Freedom from the headaches of downtime. Even freedom to enjoy true work-life balance.

If you’re interested in experiencing that kind of freedom, perhaps it’s time to find out first-hand how managed services can benefit your business. CCS Technology can walk you through every step of the process. We’ll help you find the perfect balance between cost savings and innovation.

The experts at CCS Technologies are ready to hear how we can introduce you the freedom of managed services for your IT support.


Ransomware 101

Any kind of virus is scary. The idea of the technology you use turning on you is unsettling at best. As we come to rely more on computers, smartphones, tablets and the cloud, a single cyber attack can be devastating.

And yet, there is one form of cyber attack that stands out. Ransomware is singularly chilling. When this malware finds its way onto your device, it demands payment . . . or you lose your files. Forever.

While ransomware may seem like a new form of cyber attack, it’s actually been around for a while. In fact, the first known ransomware attack happened in the 1980s.

Attack Number One

It was 1989, well before email or Instagram. The average PC user wasn’t logging into the internet, so the delivery method of that first ransomware attack may seem low-tech by today’s standards. It came on floppy disks.

20,000 of them.

The disks were distributed to users in 90 different countries, each labeled as a product of the PC Cyborg Corporation. No such company exists, but no one was counting on name recognition to get recipients to use the disks. They were counting on the content.

The disks included software designed to detail a person’s risk of contracting AIDS. In those days, AIDS was both terrifying and mysterious. New information was welcome, especially if it promised some measure of protection. The attack played on a common fear.

The software included a legitimate risk assessment tool, as well as a virus. After the user rebooted their computer a set number of times, they would be prompted to turn on their printer. At that point, a literal ransom note would print, along with instructions for paying the ransom (or “licensing fee”) in exchange for decryption software.

It was a deviously creative plan, and it set the stage for modern ransomware.

The Modern Threat

Alert aware iconToday’s ransomware is fundamentally the same as that first attack, though there are some notable differences. The delivery method, for example, has changed. We’ll cover that in more detail in a bit.

Keeping your organization safe may seem like a tall order. There are so many clever ways a cyber criminal can infiltrate your network. Not only that, but ransomware attacks are alarmingly common.

And yet, the best cybersecurity is really just strict adherence to some basic strategies. In other words, it seems complex, but it’s not.

If you’re serious about protecting your company – and you should be – there’s a two-pronged approach that will stop most ransomware dead in its tracks. You need solid employee education, and you need the right technical tools.

Employee Education

The vast majority of ransomware relies on a single potential weakness in your network – the user. This is particularly true for ransomware.

Ransomware can only find its way into your system if it’s invited. Without an open door, it can’t touch you. The trick is to make sure your people know how to avoid inadvertently inviting ransomware onto your network.

Let’s look at three key areas.


Phishing emails are the modern-day equivalent of the same strategy the AIDS Trojan used. Even if you’re not familiar with the term “phishing,” you’re likely aware of this type of attack. The user receives an email with a link. Click that link and malware makes its way onto your system.

The thing about phishing emails is that they only work if the user clicks on the link, opting to download something. If the recipient doesn’t do that, nothing happens. Unfortunately, about one-third of all phishing emails work. Innocent users take the bait, clicking on malicious links.

The success of phishing comes down to a lack of employee education. If your people know and understand the danger of suspicious downloads, they’ll be far less likely to fall for them.

Social Media

Email isn’t the only delivery vehicle for phishing.

Here’s a common scenario. Attackers create fake social media accounts on sites like Facebook and Twitter. The newest variation is a fake account that appears to represent the customer service department of a trusted company. Attackers then watch for complaints from real customers, promptly messaging them with “fixes” . . . which are, of course, loaded with dangerous links.

Make sure your employees know of this tactic. If you or any member of your staff is having issues with a product or service, make sure you initiate conversation with the vendor. Don’t trust anyone who initiates conversation with you without first verifying the authenticity of the account.


Remarkably, there are still a lot of folks out there using painfully ineffective passwords. In a recent survey. A surprising number of users were actually using the password “123456.” That’s not just an invitation for cyber attack. That’s a neon sign with a laser light show and door prizes.

Instruct your employees to use strong passwords, and encourage them to change them often.

Hidden predictable password

Technical Tools

In addition to employee education, there are some things you can do on the technical side of your network to protect your company from ransomware attacks. Like employee education, these aren’t particularly difficult to execute. But don’t be fooled by their relative simplicity.

These are crucial steps to keeping your network safe.

Software Updates & Upgrades

In June of 2017, the Petya ransomware virus made worldwide headlines, infecting an estimated 16,500 machines. Ready for the painful twist? Microsoft released patches to address the vulnerabilities Petya exploited in May.

Software updatesToo many companies have a casual, relaxed attitude about updates and upgrades. Yes, it’s inconvenient to reboot your machine so the OS can update. Yes, it’s expensive to upgrade from the old version of a program to the new (current) version. And yes, it’s extremely important to do both anyway.

Software developers do their best to outpace cyber criminals. When they find holes in their products, they address them. But if you don’t update and upgrade appropriately, you’ll remain vulnerable.

Backups & Business Continuity

Even thorough security measures aren’t a guarantee that you won’t fall victim to a ransomware attack. After all, it just takes one employee clicking on a malicious link. Just one out-of-date program. It can happen, even if you’re cautious.

Because the threat is very real, your protection should include a worst-case-scenario plan.

Ransomware is engineered to hold your data hostage. That can ruin a business – unless you have recent backups and a solid business continuity plan. If you’re prepared, even a successful attack won’t unravel your company’s stability.

A word of caution here, though. Business continuity isn’t something we advise doing on your own. But, that’s a perfect lead-in to our final technical tool . . .

Cybersecurity Partner

A cybersecurity partner should be a part of your ransomware defense plan. Particularly if you don’t have an internal IT department. There’s no substitution for expertise. Working with the pros makes protection much easier to manage.

A well-qualified cybersecurity partner can even handle employee education on your behalf.

CCS Technology Can Help

Ransomware is a serious threat. That’s why we recommend a serious, proactive response. The individual parts aren’t all that complex, but each piece is important.

If you’re looking for ways to shore up potential security holes in your network, the experts at CCS Technology are here to help. We have years of experience helping small businesses just like yours. We know what it takes to stop ransomware.

Plus, we’re just a phone call away. Let us know how we can help you.