After two years of successful expansion of the Cheaha supercomputer, UAB is not resting in the quest to continue building a faster high-performance computer to power groundbreaking research.

Future plans include growing the team of IT experts who assist research; introducing stronger shared governance to prioritize needs; and adding even more speed and capacity to Cheaha.

Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., spoke to researchers last month at the annual UAB Research Computing Day to share the vision for the future.

“We’ve created a space for tremendous success over the last few years, but we need your partnership,” Carver told researchers.

Cheaha began its exponential growth in June 2015, when UAB IT secured additional funding through grants and university partnerships for more storage for the high performance computer.

After growing to 110 teraflops and 6.6 petabytes of storage by fall 2016, UAB added new graphics processing units in 2017 to grow speed to 450 teraflops.

The plan, Carver said, is to grow Cheaha to 1,000 teraflops in 2018 — and perhaps even crack the top 100 list of most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The team that supports Cheaha will also be growing, adding up to 12 new employees in the coming year to assist researchers with using the supercomputer for their work. Eventually, Carver said, research computing could become a stand-alone entity, a research center to serve campus.

At Research Computing Day, Carver sought feedback from researchers who use Cheaha, and noted that UAB will be introducing a shared governance structure to better prioritize research computing needs and allocate resources.
Sending PII

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.

For the past several months, individuals sending emails containing such information have been given pop-up policy tips in the Outlook email client.

The warnings are intended to alert email senders of the potential danger of sending such information.

“Sending credit card information or Social Security numbers is extremely dangerous and could leave you vulnerable to identity theft,” said Brian Rivers, assistant vice president and chief information security officer. “Our goal is to help protect our students, faculty and staff.”
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.

Adobe recommends that you update to the latest versions of Adobe Acrobat DC and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. By updating to the latest versions, you will benefit from the latest functional enhancements and improved security measures.

UAB offers an Acrobat DC subscription plan of $15 annually to its employees for use on UAB-owned computers. There is no charge for Acrobat Reader.

If you have questions about upgrading Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, please contact AskIT.

Learn more from Adobe here.
Devices that use WiFi are vulnerable to a newly discovered and serious flaw, dubbed KRACK, in a commonly used wireless security protocol, WPA2.

Even on correctly configured wireless networks, attackers can potentially use KRACK — short for Key Reinstallation Attack — to read information that was previously assumed to be safely secured. WiFi access points as well as devices are impacted by this significant weakening of these wireless security protections.

How it works 
Devices can be tricked into installing an encryption key that allows for some or all wirelessly transmitted data to be read.

What to do 

  • Limit any potentially sensitive activities performed on wireless networks, or utilize the UAB VPN as a way to protect communications when on wireless at UAB or at home. 
  • Use wired networks if possible.
  • Update all wireless devices to address the vulnerability. This will depend on vendors creating and releasing the updates for various devices, including routers and access points as well as phones, tablets and laptops.
  • Ensure any activities on that must be performed on wireless networks are done via secure channels (HTTPS websites, SSH, S-FTP). Avoid unencrypted channels such as HTTP websites, Telnet, FTP.
  • Watch for suspicious individuals in a close proximity to your wireless network.
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