December 2017
 
A monthly report to UAB leadership and the IT community about technology projects
designed to enhance the work and lives of UAB staff, faculty and students.
UAB IT 100 Wins
 

Empowering UAB 

IT Annual Report reviews year of progress, expansion, change

The fastest supercomputer in Alabama. The first university to introduce a 100Gbps network. Customer service that has improved five-fold. The IT Annual Report is a snapshot of our progress toward fulfilling the programs and initiatives under each of UAB's seven IT imperatives, but we are constantly on an upward trajectory. In our relentless pursuit of excellence, we will never stop trying to improve the work experiences of our customers. Learn more here.

CAMPUS
Emails with SSNs, credit card numbers will be blocked
Sending credit card or Social Security numbers via email can make you or others more vulnerable to identity theft — and is against UAB policy. Beginning Dec. 1, UAB IT will begin blocking the sending of emails from @uab.edu addresses if the email appears to contain a Social Security number or credit card number. The sender will receive an email from UAB IT’s information security team if the email is blocked. Learn more here.
 
New Data Access Policy, revised Acceptable Use Policy implemented
A new Data Access Policy and revised Acceptable Use of Computer and Network Resources Policy go into effect Dec. 1. “These policies provide UAB students, faculty and staff with clear guidance for use of computing resources and with formalized protection of sensitive and restricted information,” said Brian Rivers, UAB’s chief information security officer. Learn more here.

Help UAB IT improve customer service with new survey
UAB IT will be adding a customer service survey to the closure emails for AskIT and Desktop Services customers who have submitted incident and request tickets in the IT Service Portal. The surveys are part of an overall UAB IT effort to improve customer service. Learn more here.

Reminder: PGP encryption going end of life on Dec. 29
When you log in to your computer, do you see a gray Symantec login page? If so, you will soon need to have PGP removed from your computer. The Symantec PGP encryption software is going end of life on Dec. 29, 2017 — which means it will no longer be supported. Learn more here.

Phase 2 for new IT building approved by UA System Trustees
The University of Alabama System Board of Trustees last month approved phase II for a new information technology building on the UAB campus. The building, to be located at the corner of 9th Avenue South and 17th Street South, would house a new Data Center and office space for UAB IT.
RESEARCH

Research computing team attends global supercomputer event

UAB's Research Computing team attended SC17, the premier international supercomputing event, to learn how the latest advances in computing, storage and network technologies supporting global scientific initiatives can be applied to UAB research efforts and in support of Cheaha, UAB's high-performance computing cluster. They learned about trends in HPC data center design and cooling technologies from vendors on the show floor and at dedicated tutorial sessions and met with academic peers from Stanford, Indiana University, Monash University, UTC, Eglin AFB, and Sandia National Laboratories to learn about how they are bringing high performance computing, cloud and integrated research services to their communities. Learn more here.
SERVICE SPOTLIGHT
OneNote Class Notebook allows easy classroom collaboration
For faculty looking for an easy way to collaborate with students, the Office 365 OneNote Class Notebook is a great way for teachers and students to access shared classroom content. All students, faculty and staff are eligible for OneDrive. OneDrive allows faculty and staff to easily share folders and documents with their students using a simple web interface. Microsoft OneDrive provides online storage for all file types that can be easily accessed from the internet, mobile devices, or within Microsoft Office products. It is part of the Office 365 suite of applications. 
OPERATIONS & ADMINISTRATION

Holiday deals — and Santa — at TechConnect for all staff, students

The holiday season has hit TechConnect, UAB's on-campus and online tech store. For UAB students, faculty and staff, TechConnect will be 20 percent off Skullcandy accessories. And on Tuesday, Dec. 12, Santa Claus will be on hand for photos with students, staff and their families. TechConnect, located online and at the Hill Student Center, offers educational pricing on computers, tablets and accessories, as well as service for your devices. 

UAB IT recommends upgrading Adobe Acrobat, Reader XI
For your security and convenience, UAB IT recommends that anyone using Adobe Acrobat XI and Adobe Reader XI update their software, as Adobe’s support for the products ended Oct. 15, 2017. End of support means that Adobe no longer provides technical support, including product and/or security updates, for those software products. Learn more here.
TEACHING AND LEARNING
 
Three new classrooms upgraded at Heritage Hall
Professors who use three rooms in Heritage Hall returned from the Thanksgiving break to find updated technology in their classrooms. The upgrades are part of a plan to upgrade 20 classrooms per year over the next three years. Led by faculty members and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the improvements will give faculty members a more consistent technology experience. Learn more here.

Canvas alerts from faculty expanded to student performance
Faculty members now have access to expanded automated alerts in Canvas, giving them the ability to communicate quickly with students based on assignment and quiz grades. Working with the Center for Teaching and Learning and eLearning and Professional Studies, UAB IT expanded the Canvas alerts to allow faculty to be able to select individual assignments and enable automated e-mail messages based on the score range achieved on that assignment.
SECURITY
Data Reduction: If you don't need it, delete it
 
Help us reduce unnecessary data: If you don't need it, delete it
Storing confidential information — particularly information classified as restricted — endangers students, faculty and staff. UAB IT needs the help of everyone on campus to reduce the amount of data, such as Social Security numbers or personal health information, that is stored on local computers or servers. Remember this rule: If you don't need it, delete it. And if you do need it, store restricted and sensitive information according to the Data Classification and Data Protection rules. The video above has more tips on reducing data, and you can click on our new data reduction page to learn more. 

Reminder: UAB IT has a new security awareness site
UAB IT's new information security awareness page gives you practical tips, guidance on UAB policies and even a security awareness toolkit so you can help spread the word. 
COMMUNITY

UAB Toy Drive under way; help us collect gifts for children in need
For the 24th year, UAB students and employees will be coming together to make the holidays brighter for area children in need. UAB IT kicked off UAB’s 23rd annual Toy Drive on Nov. 8, and new, unwrapped toys can be brought to boxes across campus until Monday, Dec. 11. On that day, Santa and his elf will greet visitors to the Administration Building as toys are collected across campus and then picked up for the Birmingham area Toys for Tots drive. Learn more here.
TECH CORNER

Duo users will log in using 2-factor authentication to most systems
Beginning Jan. 8, 2018, Duo account holders will be required to use Duo 2-factor authentication to log into most UAB systems that use single sign-on, or the Central Authentication System, for login. Duo users' BlazerID passwords will no longer expire and they won’t have to change their passwords unless the account is compromised. Two-factor authentication is one of the most valuable tools to mitigate the theft of credentials and information. If a malicious actor steals your credentials, whether through a successful phishing attack or a password-reuse issue, he or she can impersonate you and access any accounts to which you have access. Learn more at uab.edu/2factor.

ON THE HORIZON

New email security enhancements coming this winter
Security enhancements for UAB email are coming this winter, with new features designed to protect students, faculty and staff from security risks. Among the changes on tap: email encryption, which will allow email account holders to automatically encrypt email messages they send; and notices when emails are received from external senders. 

DID YOU KNOW?
 
Cloud storage options have many advantages: Cloud storage through UAB Box and OneDrive offers a lot of advantages: collaboration and concurrent editing; large storage size; convenience; and accessibility. And the best part? It's free. Students, faculty and staff can use OneDrive, and faculty and staff can use UAB Box. Learn more from the video above or by clicking here.
 
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A new Data Access Policy and revised Acceptable Use of Computer and Network Resources Policy go into effect Dec. 1.

“These policies provide UAB students, faculty and staff with clear guidance for use of computing resources and with formalized protection of sensitive and restricted information,” said Brian Rivers, UAB’s chief information security officer.

The revised Acceptable Use policy applies to all users of UAB’s computing resources and is intended to prohibit certain unacceptable uses of computers, mobile devices and network resources and facilities, while educating users about their individual responsibilities.

The revised policy gives clearer guidance and expectations to UAB students, faculty and staff regarding their use of University computing resources.

The new Data Access Policy outlines the requirements for granting and revoking access to Sensitive and Restricted/PHI institutional data, as outlined in the Data Classification Rule.

Examples of sensitive data include FERPA data, budgetary plans and data protected by law. Examples of Restricted/PHI data include HIPAA protected health information, Social Security numbers and credit card numbers.

The Data Access Policy ensures that access to such information is authorized and based on the principles of least privilege and need to know, that its use is appropriate and that authorized access complies with UAB policies, standards and rules as well as relevant laws.

“Creating a secure computing environment is the No. 1 IT imperative at UAB,” said Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Caver Jr., Ph.D. “Over the past year, we have worked to revise and streamline technology policies to give the University community clearer expectations for their behavior and to better protect their information.”
UAB IT will be adding a customer service survey to the closure emails for AskIT and Desktop Services customers who have submitted incident and request tickets in the IT Service Portal.

The surveys are part of an overall UAB IT effort to improve customer service.

"Responses to the survey will help us improve our services we deliver," said Jamie Witter, associate director of IT Client Services. 

The survey is brief — customers will be asked to rate their customer service based on the maturity of a dragon, and can answer additional questions about their customer service experience. 

The survey looks similar to what is pictured below. A link will be provided in the closing emails for tickets.

CustomerServiceSurvey

Desktop Services is currently undergoing an improvement plan, working with industry-leading customer service consultant HDI. The AskIT help desk underwent a similar improvement process and after working over the past year with HDI improved its customer service rating to a 2.6. Desktop Services' goal is a 2.5 rating in nine months.

Desktop Services has already improved certain metrics of customer response — such as decreasing the time to resolve incidents by 40 percent. But the goal, said Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., is to decrease the resolution time for incidents from eight days to just one day.


Professors who use three rooms in Heritage Hall returned from the Thanksgiving break to find updated technology in their classrooms.

The upgrades are part of a plan to upgrade 20 classrooms per year over the next three years. Led by faculty members and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the improvements will give faculty members a more consistent technology experience. Updated technology includes remote management, so problems can be resolved quickly by UAB IT technicians.

UAB IT’s classroom techs have been proactively meeting with each professor who teaches in the classrooms — rooms HH121, HH124 and HH126 — to show them how to use the equipment.

Later this month, seven rooms — five in Heritage Hall and two in the Education Building — will also see an upgrade.
UAB's Research Computing team attended SC17, the premiere international supercomputing event, to learn how the latest advances in computing, storage and network technologies supporting global scientific initiatives can be applied to UAB research efforts and in support of Cheaha, UAB's high-performance computing cluster.

Dr. Puri Bangalore, interim director of research computing; John-Paul Robinson; Thomas Anthony; and Ravi Tripathi attended the November event in Denver and met with industry partners including Dell, IBM, Nvidia, and DDN to learn about the latest updates to the products that drive HPC at UAB. They learned about trends in HPC data center design and cooling technologies from vendors on the show floor and at dedicated tutorial sessions and met with academic peers from Stanford, Indiana University, Monash University, UTC, Eglin AFB, and Sandia National Laboratories to learn about how they are bringing high performance computing, cloud and integrated research services to their communities.

Bangalore organized the workshop on Exascale computing (ExaMPI).  Other members of the team attended workshops on directive-based GPU computing (WACCPD), medical imaging analysis and visualization (MIAV), HPC datacenter design, acquisition and commissioning, and use of Python in HPC (PyHPC).

Anthony was a featured speaker at the DDN booth and showcased the impact that UAB's multi-petabyte storage capacity is having on neuroimaging research at UAB. View his slides here.

About the SC Conference:

The Supercomputing Conference is an annual conference sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group on High Performance Computing (SIGHPC) and the IEEE Computer Society. It is the premiere international conference for HPC and brings together vendors, researchers, and users of the worlds most advanced computing, storage and networking technologies for a week of meetings, workshops, tutorials, paper presentations, posters, and an expansive show floor.  SC17 was attended by more than 12,000 people.

The Supercomputing conference coincides with the fall release of the ranking for the Top500 super computers in the world.

Supercomputing features the annual construction of a state-of-the-art network named SCinet. SCinet is hub of the international networking community and is used to showcase the latest capabilities in high performance networking at the conference. The network provides production wired and wireless network services to conference attendees and vendors throughout the conference, making it an excellent demonstration of how cutting-edge research technologies can live side-by-side with production operations. SCinet is designed and built by over 200 volunteers from academia, government agencies, and industry from around the globe working together throughout the year. The network is custom built at the conference location in less than week, features over 50 miles of fiber optic cable.  This years' network supplied over 3Terabits network capacity, the equivalent of over thirty 100Gigabit university links like the one UAB installed last year.
ToyDriveToysforTots2017
For the 24th year, UAB students and employees will be coming together to make the holidays brighter for area children in need.

UAB IT is kicking off UAB’s 23rd annual Toy Drive on Wednesday, Nov. 8. UAB IT has organized the Toy Drive for more than 10 years.

AllToysToys collected in the drive will be donated to Toys for Tots. UAB is among the largest contributors to the Birmingham area Toys for Tots effort.

"We are grateful for the support of UAB employees and students to this campaign year after year,” said Eric Thompson, who organizes the Toy Drive for UAB IT each year.

Boxes to collect toy donations will be located in buildings across campus, including the Administration Building, Bartow Arena, Cudworth Hall, Heritage Hall, Medical Towers, Worrell Building, UAB Police Department, Mervyn Stern Library, Facilities, Hoehn Engineering building, Hill Student Center (at TechConnect), Lister Hill Library, Optometry, RSB and School of Nursing. Anyone interested in participating can email Eric Thompson.

New, unwrapped toys are needed for the toy drive. UAB IT and UAB Police Department volunteers will pick up the toys the morning of Monday, Dec. 11, and collect them in the lobby of the Administration Building, where Santa Claus and his elf will greet those with last-minute donations at the third annual Drive-Thru Santa event.
UAB Employee Sale 02
Looking for a good deal on a new computer as the holidays approach?

For UAB faculty and staff, TechConnect will be offering $100 off any Dell laptop through Nov. 30 — just in time for holiday shopping. Computers must be purchased in-store (online sales are not eligible).

TechConnect, located online and at the Hill Student Center, offers educational pricing on computers, tablets and accessories, as well as service for your devices.


Keeping confidential information on local servers or computers poses a risk for UAB students, faculty and staff — and UAB IT needs everyone's help to keep that data safe.

UAB IT needs the help of everyone on campus to reduce the amount of data, such as Social Security numbers or personal health information, that is stored on local computers or servers.

Remember this rule: If you don't need it, delete it. And if you do need it, store restricted and sensitive information according to the Data Classification and Data Protection rules.

The video above has more tips on reducing data, and you can click on our new data reduction page to learn more.
PGP grayscreen

When you log in to your computer, do you see a gray Symantec login page?

If so, you will soon need to have PGP removed from your computer.

The Symantec PGP encryption software is going end of life on Dec. 29, 2017 — which means it will no longer be supported.

According to the UAB – Minimum Security For Computing Devices Rule, July 2017, all laptop computers used for UAB business must be encrypted to protect data from unauthorized disclosure. 

To meet this requirement, systems that require disk encryption and currently use PGP to meet that requirement should remove PGP by Dec. 29, 2017, and use Microsoft’s BitLocker or Apple’s FileVault disk encryption solution.

Desktop Services customers should contact AskIT if they have questions.

If you are not a Desktop Services customer, contact your departmental IT professionals for assistance.
For your security and convenience, UAB IT recommends that anyone using Adobe Acrobat XI and Adobe Reader XI update their software, as Adobe’s support for the products ended Oct. 15, 2017.

End of support means that Adobe no longer provides technical support, including product and/or security updates, for those software products.

You can order Adobe products in the IT Service Portal here.