Phishing attempts threaten not only employees' personal information but also University resources, according to the latest issue of the IT Risk Bulletin.

The December issue of the bulletin, a joint effort of the of UAB, the University of Alabama, UAB Health System and the University of Alabama-Huntsville, provides tips on avoiding getting "phished."

• If you get an email, instant message or phone call in which you are asked for financial or personal information, do not reply or click links within the message.

• Never provide sensitive personal or financial information through email.

• Do not click links in potentially fraudulent email. A link that looks like it points to a valid Web site could be forged or cause your computer to download malware.

For more tips and to see past issues of the bulletin, click here.
UAB IT Provides Critical Guidance to Campus on Appropriate Versions of Internet Explorer, Mac OS, and Java to Mitigate Risks of Exploitation; updates Java recommendation to 1.7.0_72


Windows Systems:


• On Windows 7 Install IE 10 and Java 1.7.0_72

UAB IT has updated the minimum recommendations for versions of Internet Explorer and Java as UAB systems have improved functionality to support newer browsers and the currently secure version of Java. Internet Explorer 10 and Java 1.7.0_72 are recommended for installation on Windows 7/8. UAB IT also recommends using a separate browser with JAVA disabled for Internet use.  Use IE on campus with Java enabled and your choice of Firefox or Chrome for Internet browsing with JAVA disabled (for information on disabling Java click here).

Mac Systems:

• Install OSX 10.9 and Java 1.7.0_72

UAB IT has updated the minimum recommendations for versions of Mac Operating systems and Java as UAB systems have improved functionality that are compatible with the current version of Java. The recommended operating systems for use on Campus are Apple OSX 10.7x and 10.8x. While Apple OSX 10.6x is still supported by Apple, vendors are no longer testing against it for compatibility. Apple operating systems will not run any version lower than Java 1.7.0_51.

UAB IT also recommends using two different browsers — one for surfing the Web and one just for accessing UAB systems. For Internet Web browsing, use one of the following: Firefox Safari, or Chrome, with Java disabled (for information on disabling Java click here). For working with just UAB systems, choose a different browser and enable Java to work in it. If you run into compatibility issues with the local browser and UAB IT systems, use the IT terminal servers to access UAB resources via RDP client (for information on using IT terminal servers on Mac click here).

For more information, contact AskIT (www.uab.edu/askit).

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A new version of Firefox may impact UAB campus users trying to access certain administrative systems through that browser.

The Firefox 34.0.5 update disables SSLv3 by default.

Users who have updated Firefox this week may receive an error message if they try to access one of UAB’s administrative systems, such as Oracle or eLAS, on Firefox.
FireFox screencapture
Users can simply choose a different browser to access those systems. 

Other web browsers may issue similar updates in coming weeks, but UAB IT is working quickly to resolve the compatability and security issues.
“Your paycheck has been compromised.” That’s the kind of subject line you’ll see in a phishing email that’s trying to trick you into revealing personal information — like your BlazerID and password.

But if you fall for it, your paycheck — and all of your other personal information — truly could be compromised.

UAB has been under attack from scam artists and phishing e-mails. Dozens of individuals have fallen victim to the attacks and have had their e-mail accounts compromised and used for malicious purposes.

Users whose accounts are compromised will have their passwords revoked. The recommended method to reset them is through BlazerID self-service, particularly during the holidays when AskIT will have limited hours. AskIT will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 27, and Friday, Nov. 28, and will reopen at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Scam e-mails typically increase around the holidays, so take steps now to be able to recover your password by registering for BlazerID self-service.

Be extremely cautious about any e-mail message that claims to be from UAB, and NEVER provide your password in response to an e-mail communication.

Follow these additional tips to avoid being a victim:

• Do NOT click links in messages that ask you to log in. Type a trusted Web address in your browser or Google for the Web site if you don’t know the address.

• Never type personal, sensitive information (such as passwords or account numbers) on Web sites without verifying the Web site’s authenticity and security — look for an “https” in the address bar.

• Verify the address. Malicious Web sites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the address may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (.com vs. .edu).

• Misspellings and grammatical errors can be a dead giveaway in phishing emails and subject lines.

• If you are unsure whether a request is legitimate, contact the company directly. Do NOT use contact information provided in the request.

• Don’t open attachments. They may contain viruses or malware that can infect your computer.

• Protect your password. Information security and IT officials at both the university and UAB Hospital will never ask users for passwords or any other sensitive information.

• Report suspicious activity. If you have any questions or you receive a suspicious email that you want to report, university employees and students can call the AskIT Help Desk at 205-996-5555.  Hospital employees can call the HSIS Help Desk at 205-934-8888.



Social media has changed the way we interact with each other, but while they have made some things easier for us, they have also made it easier for us to be a target for security risks.

The November issue of the IT Risk Bulletin, a joint publication of UAB, the University of Alabama, UAB Health System and the University of Alabama-Huntsville, offers some practical tips for staying safe online.

Among them:

• Keep private information private. Do NOT post your Social Security number, banking PIN or other personal information.

• Use the social network’s privacy and security settings to control what you post.

• Only approve friend requests from people you know.

For more tips and to access previous IT Risk Bulletins, click here.

Microsoft released a new critical security update on Nov. 18, 2014, that resolves a Windows vulnerability regarding privileges.

The vulnerability in Microsoft Windows Kerberos KDC could allow an attacker to elevate unprivileged domain user account privileges to those of the domain administrator.

An attacker could, according to Microsoft, use those privileges to compromise any computer in the domain.

The update requires a restart.

For more information, visit https://technet.microsoft.com/library/security/ms14-068

Microsoft has released a security package to correct a critical vulnerability in Windows, and UAB IT is urging campus technical professionals and users to apply the patch immediately.

Microsoft released security bulletin MS14-066 “Vulnerability in Schannel Could Allow Remote Code Execution (2992611),” for November’s Patch Tuesday.

MS14-066 is a critical vulnerability in the Microsoft Secure Channel (Schannel) security package that allows specially crafted packets to compromise the machine. This affects all Windows servers and clients. Microsoft indicates that there are no workarounds or mitigations.

Please run the Windows update as soon as possible for all your Windows machines, servers and clients.

What is Schannel?

Secure Channel, also known as Schannel, is a security support provider (SSP) that contains a set of security protocols that provide identity authentication and secure, private communication through encryption. Schannel is primarily used for Internet applications that require secure Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) communications.


For more information:

https://technet.microsoft.com/library/security/MS14-066

https://isc.sans.edu/diary/Microsoft+November+2014+Patch+Tuesday/18941

https://isc.sans.edu/forums/diary/How+bad+is+the+SCHANNEL+vulnerability+CVE-2014-6321+patched+in+MS14-066+/18947

http://www.zdnet.com/drop-what-youre-doing-and-patch-the-windows-schannel-bugs-now-7000035738/

Hoping to reduce threats to computer security, the chief information security officers for the University of Alabama, UAB, UAB Medicine and UAHuntsville are launching a new monthly IT Risk Bulletin.

The inaugural issue offers tips on creating stronger passwords. 

The newsletters will be published by the chief information security officers for UA, UAB, UAB Medicine and UAHuntsville, working in conjuction with the UA System Office of Risk Management and the director of IT Audit. The monthly newsletters are designed to help each campus' users to avoid IT errors.

An archive of the IT Risk Bulletin is available here.
UAB IT is aware of a critical vulnerability — called “POODLE” — on Web browsers and is taking steps to ensure that all enterprise systems and applications have been protected from this vulnerability.

Security researchers have identified POODLE — “Padding Oracle on Downgrade Legacy Encryption” — in an old but still commonly used version of SSL, the technology used to encrypt HTTP and other web traffic. Any server that supports SSL version 3 (SSLv3) can be exploited so that an attacker can decrypt secure sessions, potentially revealing passwords and other private information.

Web browsers will be updating their technology over the next few weeks to automatically disable SSLv3 on the client (browser) side, eliminating the POODLE vulnerability. If you utilize an older computer, please ensure that you have updated modern web browser such as Firefox 33, Chrome 38, Safari 7, Internet Explorer 10 or 11. There are platform-specific settings available for most browsers to disable SSLv3 at runtime for those who do not want to wait. Most users can simply ensure they get automatic browser updates and wait for the official update.

The safest and simplest solution is to disable SSLv3 support on all software, and instead use more recent versions of SSL: TLS version 1, 1.1, or 1.2. (Confusingly, more recent versions of SSL use the name TLS, for Transport Layer Security, rather than SSL, and the numbering scheme was reset to 1. So SSLv3 is older than TLSv1. TLS version 1.2 is the most recent version of SSL/TLS.)

Server administrators should take immediate action to disable SSLv3. Simply enabling other versions and leaving SSLv3 enabled is insufficient, as protocol downgrade attacks are possible. Disabling SSLv3 on a server may create compatibility problems for ancient client software — most notably, Internet Explorer 6 will be blocked from using SSL. Protocol configuration is platform-specific, so please refer to your official documentation for instructions. Some unofficial guides and methods of checking your server are available in in the references below.

Web clients other than browsers, such as web services, may need reconfiguration to communicate over TLS. Administrators and developers responsible for non-browser clients should check their official documentation. 

In an effort to emphasize the risks of using cloud services to store University data, UAB IT is releasing interim guidance on the use of cloud services for the UAB campus.

The guidance is for members of the UAB campus community who wish to use cloud applications and services available on the Web, including file storage, Web conferencing and content hosting.

While recognizing that cloud services can fill a need in certain areas, UAB IT reminds all UAB employees to use appropriate due diligence when entering into agreements, especially with cloud providers. UAB employees should not store sensitive/restricted information in a cloud service without University-approved agreements in place.

UAB employees cannot subscribe to cloud services to store sensitive or classified data (see UAB Data Protection and Security Policy for what UAB defines as sensitive data) without an appropriate agreement directly with UAB — and employees cannot be reimbursed for such cloud subscriptions without an affirming statement that the data stored is not sensitive.

“We want to make people aware of how risky it is to use such sites for sensitive data,” said David Yother, director of enterprise technology services for UAB IT. “The safest method is to keep it here at UAB, unless a specific business reason exists and appropriate management approvals have been received.”

Over the coming months, additional information will be released, including guidelines for specific cloud services.

More information about the cloud guidance can be found here.

UAB Hospital employees should refer to guidance from HSIS with regard to using cloud services.