A faster, more convenient method for UAB faculty and staff to access software for UAB business purposes will debut Sept. 6.

The new solution will allow users to immediately install no-cost software and will quickly redirect users to the fee-based software purchase request.

More detailed instructions on how to use the new software download system will be available on Sept. 6. UAB IT will offer a software distribution process demonstration on Wednesday, Sept. 7, from 10 to 11 a.m. in Hill Student Center room 203. The demonstration is open to all UAB faculty and staff.

IT professionals across campus have worked with UAB IT to co-design the new solution for institutional software downloads.

The new solution uses Microsoft System Center Configuration Manager (SCCM), which is installed on most UAB-owned computers. If you have questions about SCCM, contact your department’s IT professionals.

When the new download solution debuts next month, the current software download site will remain live as UAB transitions to the new system for UAB-owned computers.

For software downloads for their personal home computers, students, faculty and staff can go to On the Hub.
The UAB network will experience one, and possibly three, 2-4 minute outages between 6 and 9 a.m. on Saturday, August 20, as UAB IT performs annual network upgrades.

UAB IT has scheduled the outage while classes are out of session to lessen the impact on campus.

The UAB Hospital network will not be affected by the outage.
If you call AskIT in the near future, you might receive help from Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver.

Department leadership will be taking an active role in assessing how AskIT can improve how UAB IT serves campus — in some cases by answering calls and helping customers.

Curt HelpDeskCIO Dr. Curt Carver takes calls at the AskIT Help Desk.“This is one of our top priorities. I’m personally going to work to get this fixed,” Carver said. “We want you to experience quick, reliable service that enables you to get back to doing great work that helps change the world.”

Developing a responsive, proficient and courteous help desk is among the objectives in the IT Strategic Plan. Help desk improvements are part of an overall plan to create a world-class IT organization that builds trust with its customers and offers reliable services to exceed their needs and expectations.

In recent, weeks, a team from HDI, an association of technical support professionals, has been auditing AskIT to make recommendations on improving service. The goal is to improve AskIT’s maturity as a help desk to a 3-plus rating, on a scale of 0 to 4, in 24 to 30 months.

Over the next year, UAB IT will take several steps to making those improvements, including:

  • Updating equipment for technicians
  • Offering standardized training and customer service classes to AskIT staff
  • Hiring an associate director to focus on increasing customer service
  • Supplementing the current staff with additional technicians with customer service experience

UAB IT will also assess customers’ calls to help answer their questions and solve their problems more accurately and quickly.

“We’ll be looking at the top 10 reasons customers call us,” said Scott Sorenson, assistant vice president for process and quality management. “We’ll look at ways we can automate processes so we can answer customers’ questions faster.”

As customer service maturity improves, UAB IT will analyze the results to ensure continuous improvement.
Tuesday, 19 July 2016 11:13

Security tip: Stay safe online

Browsing web sites, shopping online, playing Pokemon Go — there are dozens of ways we go online every day. While no browser, app or device can be perfectly secure, learning safe browsing habits and practicing them every day can help you be safer and more secure online.

When you are reading e-mail or browsing online, be on the lookout for suspicious links and deceptive web pages, which are major sources of malware. CyberSecurityTip Icon

Also be careful when selecting browser plugins, apps, or other downloadable files since they can introduce new vulnerabilities.

Here are some suggestions to make your day-to-day online browsing more productive, safe, and secure.

  • Keep your browser software up-to-date. Be sure to install antivirus updates and regularly check for and install browser plugin (e.g., Adobe Flash and Java) updates.
  • Be more secure! Make sure a URL includes HTTPS before entering any personal information.
  • When in doubt, ignore. Don't click on pop-up windows or extraneous ads.
  • Keep your private information safe. Use a strong, unique password or passphrase for each account, and avoid storing account information on a website. Consider using separate browsers for sensitive logins and general web browsing. UAB IT offers a free password tool, Keeper, to help students, faculty and staff keep their passwords secure.
  • Use private networks for sensitive transactions. Avoid checking your bank account, making purchases, or logging in to other websites that include sensitive information when using public Wi-Fi. Make sure that on campus you use the UABSecure WiFi network, rather than UABStartHere.
  • Go stealth when browsing. Your browser can store quite a bit of information about your online activities, including cookies, cached pages, and history. To ensure the privacy of personal information online, limit access by going "incognito" and using the browser's private mode.
A $2.5 million investment in the university’s research network will improve network speed not only researchers but also for faculty, staff and students.

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees has approved $2.5 million for the project, which includes $500,000 from the National Science Foundation and $2 million in UAB institutional funds.

The research network upgrade will create a significant competitive advantage for researchers in genomics, personalized medicine, cyber security and other disciplines, as it couples with high performance research computing expansions to allow the transport of very large data sets.

The upgrade will include installation of a 100G edge upgrade with a science DMZ, border firewall and intrusion prevention system. The investment would speed network connectivity at least 20-fold.

“This upgrade is a critical strategic investment that will greatly facilitate high performance research in a number of areas,” Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Caver Jr. said.

Improvements in the research network will also benefit the network across campus. UAB IT has been working on a number of initiatives to strengthen network connectivity:
  • Increasing raw fiber bandwidth from 10 to 100 GBps to Nashville and Atlanta, which increases capacity for the campus community and helps facilitate the use of cloud storage systems like UABbox and OneDrive.
  • Partnering with content delivery network Akamai to deploy an internet caching switch, which will increase internet bandwidth 20 to 60 percent across campus.
  • Deployment of a separate 40 GBps network and associated science demilitarized zone dedicated to research centers and traffic.
TechConnect's new Notebook Program offers students lower prices on a laptop they want, bundled with the on-campus service and support they need.

Through the TechConnect Notebook Program, students can purchase one of three Dell laptops at up to $238 off retail prices, along with a service program that allows them to get support at the on-campus TechConnect storefront in the Hill Student Center. For a limited time, each Notebook Program purchase is also eligible for a $200 gift card from Dell, increasing the savings.

If a computer needs to be serviced for a prolonged period, students in the program are furnished with loaner laptops so that their studies can continue uninterrupted until their regular device is functioning properly.

Students or parents can purchase from TechConnect's web site or in the store. The storefront takes a variety of payment options, including credit cards, Blazer Bucks, Apple Pay and Android Pay.

Products can be ordered and paid for online now, with pickup available prior to the start of the fall term.

More information about the Notebook Program is available here.

TechConnect also offers affordable tablets that have been tested by UAB IT to work in the university's learning environment and that can complement students' primary devices.
As part of an ongoing effort to help better secure UAB employees' passwords, faculty, staff and students now have access to an account in Keeper, a secure and easy-to-use password management system that allows users to have more complex passwords and easily use them in web applications.

Keeper LogoThrough Keeper, your passwords and logins are saved in a private digital vault protected by powerful encryption. Keeper is a zero-knowledge security platform, which means that only the user has knowledge of and acess to his or her Master Password and the encryption key used to encrypt and decrypt his or her information.

IOS and Android apps are available in addition to the web application.

Keeper is available to UAB staff, students and faculty. It is not available to UAB Hospital staff at this time.

How to get a Keeper account:
  • Register with Keeper here.
  • Create a master password that is not your BlazerID password.
  • When creating your Master Password, Keeper requires a 15-character password length with one special character (e.g. !@#$%), one uppercase letter, one lowercase letter and at least one digit.
  • Note: Your browser may prompt you to save your Keeper Master Password. NEVER allow the browser to save your Keeper password.
  • To complete the registration process, you will need to enter your @uab.edu email address, and set a Master Password along with a "Security Question and Answer." Next you must accept the terms of use and click "Create Account."
NOTE: You must use your @uab.edu email address that is listed in the UAB phonebook. That address can be either your BlazerID@uab.edu or alias@uab.edu. To check your @uab.edu email address published in the UAB directory, click here.

After registration is complete:
  • Install the browser extensions (available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer) here.
  • Tutorials, Quick Start Guides and 24/7 support and live chat are available here.

Please send any feedback on Keeper Password Manager by entering a problem ticket in the IT Service Portal.
UAB IT is updating its login page for Office 365, OneDrive and UABbox.

The limited single sign-on login page for those cloud-based storage systems will change July 8. The change simply reflects an upgrade of the system that underlies the sign-in method. The screenshot below shows the change.

ADFS loginscreen2
"Our call to action" is how UAB Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver describes UAB's new IT Strategic Plan, published after an extensive process involving input from 14 town halls and eight committees, made up of more than 100 people.

That feedback allowed the campus community to co-author the plan that will guide UAB IT's work for the next three years. The goal is a plan of work that allows UAB IT to empower students, faculty and staff and creates value for the university.

"This has been a delightful year to reimagine what IT could be as a competitive advantage for UAB," Carver said. "This is our call to action. This is about empowering UAB."

Carver and UAB IT set out in June 2015 to listen to the campus community through the crowdsourcing site SPARK and through town halls and meetings across campus, and that effort to listen intently carried through to the strategic planning process. 

"We have a clear voice from the customer about what needs to be done," Carver said. "We want IT that creates value for the university, not IT that creates value for IT."

In addition to publication of the strategic plan, UAB IT in August will produce a poster that maps the timeline of the work described in the plan's Appendix A.
Phishing attacks, or attempts to acquire sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or credit card details, pose a major risk to you and the university.

These attacks may come in the form of emails that seem trustworthy, but may convince you to install malicious software or reveal your personal information under false pretences. CyberSecurityTip Icon

Look for indicators such as threats or spelling and grammar errors, and avoid clicking on any links in suspicious emails.

Ultimately, you are the most effective way to detect and stop phishing scams. When viewing e-mail messages, texts, or social media posts, look for the following indicators to prevent stolen passwords, personal data, or private information.

Some more tips to avoid being a phishing victim:

  • Beware sketchy messages. Phishy messages may include a formal salutation, overly-friendly tone, grammatical errors, urgent requests or gimmicks.
  • Avoid opening links and attachements. Even if you know the sender, don't click on links that could direct you to a bad web site. And do not open attachments unless you are expecting a file from someone.
  • Verify the source. Check the sender's email address to make sure it's legitimate. If in doubt, just delete the message.
  • 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).
  • If you are unsure whether a request is legitimate, contact the company directly. Do NOT use contact information provided in the request.
  • 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.

To report suspected spam to AskIT, please follow the instructions here.