Thursday, 10 September 2015 15:32

Encryption guidance

Data that are supported by federal funding must be protected by encryption that meets the federal encryption standard: FIPS 140-2.

If users are unsure about the sharing of UAB data, they can contact UAB IT's Enterprise Information Security unit for help determining the right protection to use.

7-Zip is open source software used to compress or zip files secured with encryption. When you send or transfer files that contain Personal Identifiable Information (PII) or other confidential and sensitive data the files must be encrypted to ensure they are protected from unauthorized disclosure.

7-Zip, like WinZip, creates a container called an archive that holds the files to be protected. That archive can be encrypted and protected with a password. 7-Zip is free software that can create Zip files that can be opened with WinZip or other similar programs.

To obtain a copy of 7-Zip please see and select the Download link.

Once the software is installed please follow these steps to encrypt a file or folder.

Step 1: Right click on the file / folder to be encrypted.

Step 2: Select “7-Zip” then “Add to archive…”

Step 3: In the Add to Archive window change the name of the archive you wish to create.

Step 4: Change the Archive format to “Zip."

Step 5: Change the Encryption Method to “AES-256."

There is a trade-off between using AES-256 and ZipCrypto. AES-256 is proven much more secure than ZipCrypto, but if you select AES-256 the recipient of the zip file may have to install 7-zip or another zip program to read the file contents. Selecting ZipCrypto may allow users to open the zip file in Windows without a zip program, but it does not provide adequate protection against attackers with modern cracking tools.

It is strongly recommended to use AES-256 to protect sensitive and confidential data.

Step 6: Enter a Password. Use a strong password with at least 8 characters and containing upper and lower letters and a minimum of one number.

Step 7: Select “OK” to create the encrypted archive file. The new archive file will be located in the same folder as the original.

Best security practices recommend that you do not email the password with the Zip file as it could be intercepted in transit. It is better to call the recipient of the Zip file and convey the password over the phone.

The UAB Enterprise Information Security Department (EISD) is sponsoring a National CyberSecurity Awareness Month Video Contest for currently enrolled undergraduate students.

The top three winning submissions will be announced via email and signage

There is no entry fee. The deadline for submission is noon, Friday, Oct. 23, 2015.

ELIGIBILITY: Prizes in this contest will be awarded to the best video submitted by an individual or group of currently enrolled undergraduate students. Participating students must be at least 19 years of age by September 5, 2015.

TO ENTER: During the contest period, sign up for a free YouTube account and follow the online instructions for registration.  The video’s format and size must follow YouTube’s video upload guidelines.

YouTube is not a sponsor of this contest.  Lastly the Contest Entry form must be read, completely filled out and submitted before the submission deadline.  Uploaded entries without a submitted entry form will be disqualified.  Groups cannot have more than four total members.

Your submission must:

  • Creatively demonstrate your perceived understanding of one of the following topic areas
    • Keep a Clean Machine
    • Protect Your Personal Information
    • Connect with Care
    • Be Web Wise
    • Be a Good Online Citizen
  • Be 1 minute or less in duration without credits
  • Must be an original and unique recording created by the submitters entered on the submitter form
  • Must be recorded during the submission period (September 5 – October 9).
  • Must comply with all of these submission guidelines and rules as stated in this document

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES: Submissions cannot misrepresent, defame, or have disparaging remarks about the University of Alabama at Birmingham its administration, staff, employees, faculty, students, services or products.  The EISD reserves the right to and will monitor or screen submissions prior to posting them.  By providing a submission, the submitter grants EISD an exclusive, perpetual, transferable license to copy, publish, broadcast, display, distribute, use, edit, translate, alter, combine with other material, reuse and adapt any or all portions of the submissions in any way and for any purpose whatsoever, at any time now or in the future.  Submissions that are not in accordance with the guidelines as stated herein or are not received by the contest submission deadline will be disqualified.  Submissions cannot (1) be sexually explicit or suggestive, violent or derogatory of any ethnic, racial, gender, religious, professional or age group, profane or pornographic, contain nudity or any materially dangerous activity; (2) promote alcohol, illegal drugs, tobacco, firearms/weapons (or the use of any of the foregoing), any activities that may appear unsafe or dangerous, or any particular political agenda or message; (3) promote illegal behavior; (4) promote violence; (5) contain trademarks, logos or trade dress owned by others or advertise or promote any brand or product of any kind (other than the UAB trademarks, logos, trade dress, brands or products); (6) contain any personal identification, such as license plate numbers, personal names, email addresses or street addresses without permission; (7) cannot be in violation of any of the local and national laws in the country of origin.

By submitting a submission you warrant and represent that it: (a) is your or your teams original work, (b) has not been previously published, (c) has not received previous awards, (d) does not infringe upon the copyrights, trademarks, rights of privacy, publicity or other intellectual property or other rights of any person or entity; (e) that you/your team have obtained permission from a person who is used in the submission whose name, likeness or voice is used in the submission.

CONTEST JUDGING: During the contest judging period, submissions will be judged on the following criteria (1) 60 percent – delivery of topic; (2) 40 percent – originality & creativity.  The top three finalists will be determined by the highest cumulative scores awarded by the judges.  Tied submissions will be broken by the highest score awarded in the first topic criteria.  If the tie continues, then it will be broken by the highest score awarded in the second criteria.

PRIZE DETAILS: The first place prize of $250 will be awarded to the individual entry that receives the most votes.  Additional prizes may be awarded to the second and third place entries.

Thursday, 16 July 2015 12:53

Cyber Security Initiative

Protecting UAB's digital assets is one of our core responsibilities. As part of an initiative to protect UAB's assets and inventory servers and workstations, UAB IT is making Microsoft SCCM available at no cost to all areas of campus. 

Having all of the asset information in and managed by a single system is critical to maintaining a secure computing environment.

Saturday, 27 June 2015 09:43

IT Related Contracts & Agreements

As part of the University's contract review process, UAB IT is responsible forcontract reviewing any University contract that includes an IT or IT related component prior to such contract being executed.  The information below, is provided to help facilitate the speedy processing of contracts once they are routed to IT for review. Questions on the process or requirements should be directed to UAB IT
  • Contracts* for software, subscriptions, or services (including software maintenance) that include  
    • Hosting/processing/transmission of UAB data external to UAB
    • PCI (Payment Card Industry) acceptance/processing of credit card transactions
    • Design, creation, maintenance, support, and/or hosting of any website/webpage
    • Personally identifiable information (PII) or personal health information (PHI) - does not include Health System Agreements which are managed by HSIS
    • Audit language
    • Custom software development
    • Agreements for products whare a similiar product or standard is already available/supported at UAB
    • Hardware purchase with embedded software with any of the above
  • *NOTE: For agreements that include the type of information listed above, documents/agreements must be executable, meaning they have signature lines for both UAB and the vendor.  Printing a 'click-agreement' or printing language from a website and submitting as an 'agreement' for review does not guarantee that the vendor will ever see changes/addendums that UAB may make or add to the agreement.

  • The primary goal is to minimize risk to you and UAB.  New agreements are normally subject to a more detailed review than renewal agreements. IT will review the checklist (see the FORMS section below) that you submit with your agreement for a quick determination of what review may be needed.
    • For new agreements:
      •  As necessary:
        • Confidentiality and Information Security provisions are reviewed to ensure appropriate confidentiality language is present, provisions to follow UAB on-site rules are present (if applicable), and the the vendor performs background checks on their employees. For agreemnts that include HIPAA or PHI a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) will also be required.  The BAA is handled by the UAB Legal and/or Privacy office and not by UAB IT.
        • For agreements where the vendor is hosting/processing/or transmitting UAB information additional language is needed: appropriate vendor controls are in place to protect UAB's data and that such controls are audited appropriately; that provisions are included for the return of UAB data at the end of the agreement; and that the vendor will notify UAB in the event of any security event involving UAB data. If the vendor is processing payment transactions language supporting the PCI (payment card industry) standards are required.
        • Indemnification and Liability provisions are reviewed to ensure that the vendor indemnifies UAB from any claims that their product breaches any copyright, trademark, or patents and that they will defend any such claim at their expense.  In addition, most vendors limit any claims for any breach to a small dollar amount...IT adds language removing that limitation when the breach is for confidentiality or information security claims.
        • Web/website development agreements are reviewed to ensure the vendor is aware of and will follow UAB branding requirements, security standards, and 508 compliance requirments. 
        • Audit language is reviewed and modified if needed (vendor's right to come on site at-will to audit);
        • Language is added that the "Written Agreement Governs". This is to prevent a conflict when a 'click' agreement may have to be accepted by a UAB employee to actually download, run, or maintain the product.
      • IT will aslo look to see if a similar service/product is already in place at UAB. If so, IT will work with the requesting department to understand and document the justification/business case for going outside the standard service/product. 
    • For renewals:
      • If the renewal inidicates it is governed by an existing agreement and that existing agreement was reviewed by IT initially, then the only IT review is to ensure no changes to any language are being requested by the vendor and that the renewal is consistent with the underlying agreement.  
      • If the renewal is for an agreement that was not reviewed by IT initially, then IT will need to review the underlying agreement and work with the department on what options may be available to make modifications based on the criteria above for new agreements.  Modifications to existing agreements may take more time and may ultimately result in modifications not being possible...potentially increasing the risk to UAB. 
    • Language to cover all of the items above are is provided in the applicable IT Addendum (see the FORMS LIBRARY section).  The addendum can be printed and submitted to the vendor for signagure prior to routing that agreement for signature at UAB. This will greatly speed up the review process in IT. 

  • Complete the IT Checklist and attach it to your contract when routing (see the FORMS LIBRARY section);
  • If any of the items 'checked' on the list indicate an IT addendum is needed, go ahead and send the addendum to the vendor for signature prior to routing for UAB review/signature (see the FORMS LIBRARY section).  
  • UAB Contracts/Procurement also require a generic addendum be added in most cases. If you send the vendor an IT addendum, also include the UAB addendum. (See the FORMS LIBRARY section).
  • Provide any backup information such as master agreements, statements of work, etc.
  • Submit agreements that are 'execuatable'...they have signature lines for both parties and are not simply printed off of a web site.

Below are some items that should be considered when negotiating any agreement, not just IT related agreements. 
  • Don't base fees/costs on FTE numbers as these numbers can change each year;
  • No annual escalators; 
  • Include vendor service level expectations with remedies if they are not met/maintained;
  • Include 'piggyback clauses' where the agreement can be used by other institutions in the UA System;
  • If the vendor holds/processes any UAB data, make sure the agreement contains a data exit clause that ensures UAB data is returned at no cost to UAB and in a timely manner;
  • For agreements with professional services:
    • clearly define responsibilities and expectations of each party
    • limit travel costs for any on-site work to actual costs and to no more than 15% of the actual professional services you pay
    • include language indicating the vendor will follow UAB on-site rules if working on UAB property (see the FORMS LIBRARY SECTION)
    • include language indicating the vendor must be aware of and follow UAB's Acceptable Use of Computer policy (see the FORMS LIBRARY SECTION) when connecting devices to the UAB network
    • Don't agree to pay for services/products up front.  Base payment on milestones or completion and UAB written acceptance;
  • In most cases agreements should renew annually upon mutual agreement and with issuance of a UAB PO.  Agreements should not renew automatically or where you are required to notify the vendor xx days prior to the renewal date. 
  • For contracts that IT intiates a standard agreement review template is used to evaluate risk.  You can download a copy of that template here for your own use. 

  • IT Routing Checklist - should be completed and attached to the routing packet. This checklist should help you determine which (if any) IT Addendum may be required.
  • The UAB Information Technology Addendums cover additional confidentiality, information security, and liability language to mitigate any issues related to the items/concerns above. Portions of the IT Addendum may be applicable to only certain agreements and that applicability is detailed in the various sections of the addendum.  Any changes to the IT addendum must be reviewed and approved by UAB IT. 
  • UAB Acceptable Use of Computer Resources policy
  • Business Justification/Exception Form - COMING SOON (for use when you are reqesting an exception to purchase a non-standard or similar product/service)
  • General UAB Addendum (found on the Financial Affairs contract website) - covers information related to State, University, and Legal issues/clarifications.  Any changes to the UAB addendum must be approved by University Contracts.
  • Business Associate Agreement (BAA) ( found on the UAB HIPAA website) - For agreements that include HIPAA (health related information). 

Friday, 20 February 2015 10:40

Microsoft Outlook mobile app

The Microsoft Outlook mobile app will be blocked from accessing UAB mailboxes as of noon Thursday, Feb. 26, 2015, because of security concerns. Individual users of the app will be notified.
UAB IT’s Enterprise Information Security team has determined that the Microsoft Outlook mobile app violates UAB’s Password/Passphrase Standard because it caches BlazerID passwords in a cloud service — posing a serious security risk.
UAB IT will be blocking the Microsoft Outlook mobile app from accessing UAB mailboxes, so you won’t be able to receive email through the app. The Outlook mobile app is essentially a rebranded app from a company called Acompli, which Microsoft purchased recently. Many universities and other entities are also taking the step to block the Outlook mobile app.
Native mail applications on iOS and Android are still safe for use.
  • Discontinue using the Outlook Mobile App and uninstall it from your device.
  • Change your BlazerID Password
  • Configure the standard mobile app for use with Exchange (employees) or Office 365 (students). 
{slide=What does "caching in the cloud" mean?}The Outlook mobile app captures each user’s BlazerID and password and stores them in a cloud service. UAB has no contract with — nor a security assessment from —the service, so UAB IT has no way of guaranteeing the safety of those BlazerIDs and passwords.
An official copy of this standard can be found in the UAB Policies and Procedures Library and on the UAB IT Information Security website in the IT Related Policies and Guidelines pageUAB’s password/passphrase standard states that applications should not cache BlazerID passwords/passphrases without an approved exception.
If you need help setting up a new mail app on your phone or mobile device, please contact or phone 205-996-5555.
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 13:31

IT Risk Bulletins

Each month, the chief information security officers for UA, UAB, UAB Medicine and UAHuntsville publish a monthly electronic newsletter to help users avoid IT errors.

Summer 2015 | Issue No. 8

March 2015 | Issue No. 6

February 2015 | Issue No. 5

January 2015 | Issue No. 4

December 2014 | Issue No. 3

November 2014 | Issue No. 2

October 2014 | Issue No. 1
Tuesday, 02 October 2012 13:24

Data/Drive Recovery Services

UAB has contracted with DriveSavers to provide data recovery services for the UAB
community. DriveSavers is the only data recovery company in the industry that undergoes
annual SAS 70 Type II Audit Reports and is HIPAA compliant, offering the highest level of data
security available. DriveSavers is also compliant with FAR 52.224-2 (Privacy Act), ISO 17799,
Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX), the US government Data-At-Rest (DAR) mandate, the
Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) and the new regulation by National Institute of Standards and
Technology, NIST SP 800.34 (Rev. 1).

To view DriveSavers certifications, and learn more about Data Recovery Industry standards,

Order Data Recovery Services click & follow instructions.

Sunday, 01 January 2012 05:00

Spinrite - Windows

Run Spinrite to analyze your hard disk in order to identify and attempt to correct any disk errors prior to encryption.

Order/Download Now

*While Windows XP is shown in the following video, the steps can be used for both Windows XP or Windows Vista platforms.

Sunday, 01 January 2012 05:00

Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer

Flaws are found in application software on a regular basis and the manufacturer often corrects these issues by releasing patches or new versions. To determine whether your system is using old versions of software, use Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer.

*While Windows Vista is shown in the following video, the steps can be used for both Windows XP or Windows Vista platforms.

Sunday, 01 January 2012 05:00

Portable Computing Security Initiative

Do you use your laptop for UAB business?

Do you provide your own tech support?

Has your laptop been encrypted?

If you answered yes to the first two questions but have not encrypted your laptop, you are encouraged to take advantage of the options listed below to protect UAB data by encrypting your laptop.

HSIS Customers: Please contact the Health System Information Services (HSIS) Help Desk at or 205-934-8888 for assistance with laptop encryption.

AskIT Customers: Please choose from the options listed below or contact the AskIT help desk at 205-996-5555 for assistance with laptop encryption.

Laptop Encryption Options:

Option 1 - Option 1 - Let Us Do It For You-!
This option requires that the laptop is dropped off at one of our locations for at least 1-2 business days.  The following procedures will be performed on your machine:

  • Backing up your data
  • Verifying or installing antivirus software
  • Updating antivirus definitions and scanning for viruses
  • Scanning with hardware diagnostic software
  • Installing operating system updates
  • Defragmenting the hard drive
  • Encrypting your laptop

Option 2 - Do It Yourself: "How-To" Documentation & Training Videos 
This is a do it yourself option. Please refer to the documentation and training videos on the following topics for information on how to configure and encrypt laptop computers. 

  • How to create a strong password
  • How to configure your laptop
  • How to scan for missing patches
  • How to update applications
  • How to install OS updates
  • How to install antivirus
  • How to backup your machine
  • How to defragment your hard drive
  • How to run SpinRite hardware diagnostic software
  • How to encrypt your laptop

Please feel free to contact us with any questions through our help desk, AskIT, by email or phone at 205-996-5555.