Windows 8 is not recommended for campus use at this time. However, if you have to support a Windows 8 portable device, it must be encrypted. At this time, BitLocker is available to accomplish this task on all Windows 8 portable devices that have a TPM chip and do not run on an ARM platform (such as a Windows 8 RT tablet). Windows 8 devices that run on an ARM platform or those that do not have TPM chips should not be used.
UAB Policy requires all laptop/portable devices owned by UAB or UAB businesses and all personal laptop/portable devices used for UAB business be encrypted. PGP, UAB’s current encryption tool, does not work on Windows 8 and Symantec has not yet set a support date for Windows 8.
BitLocker is an acceptable alternative to encrypt Windows 8 system drives in some circumstances. In the past, BitLocker has been recommended when PGP was incompatible with Windows 7 or specific BIOS versions. Systems that are currently encrypted with PGP should remain encrypted via PGP. UAB IT is currently researching BitLocker key management solutions and will issue further guidance as available, but in the mean time, BitLocker should be installed using the non-enterprise setup method below.
Non-Enterprise BitLocker Setup
Recommendations for using BitLocker
- Password set system BIOS
- TPM chip in the device
- You must take ownership of the TPM chip
- Before updating the BIOS, BitLocker must be suspended
- Escrow the key in some manner
- Professional/enterprise version of Windows
- Use a TPM + PIN authentication method
- System must be formatted NTFS with two volumes
Escrowing the key
With Windows 8, you may escrow the key in one of the following ways:
- Save the recovery key to a USB flash drive This method saves the recovery key to a USB flash drive. This option cannot be used with removable drives.
- Save the recovery key to a file This method saves the recovery key to a network drive or other location.
- Print the recovery key This method prints the recovery key, but it is not recommended.
It will be up to the department to maintain the escrow recovery keys.
• OSX 10.8 and Java 1.7.0_13
UAB IT’s minimum recommendations for versions of Mac browsers and Java have changed as UAB systems have improved functionality that are compatible with the current version of Java. UAB IT recommends installation of Mac OSX 10.8 and Java 1.7.0_13. Apple operating systems will not run any version lower than Java 1.7.0_13.
UAB IT is also recommending 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 with Java disabled, Safari, or Chrome. 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 more information, contact AskIT.
•Upgrade to Windows 7
A large-scale project is underway to upgrade all university-owned computers on the UAB campus to Windows 7 by April 8, 2014. At that time, Microsoft will cease its support for Windows XP, which has been the operating system primarily used by UAB computers in recent years. As a result of Microsoft no longer supporting this operating system, XP computers will no longer receive security updates. This creates a greater chance of XP computers being infected by viruses or compromised by malware.
This leaves one budget cycle to accomplish funding of this project. Upgrading to Windows 7 for any system needing network connectivity should be completed by April 2014.
• Install IE 9 and the most recently released version of JAVA
We are updating our 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 9 and Java (latest release) are recommended for installation on Windows 7 systems.
• Windows 8 not currently recommended for use
As XP fades away, Microsoft has rolled out its newest operating system, Windows 8. The transition from XP has prompted some users to ask why IT doesn’t upgrade to Windows 8 instead of Windows 7. The answer is that Windows 8 is currently not recommended for widespread use in the UAB environment due to the following reasons:
- Currently, not all of UAB’s business systems support Internet Explorer 10, the minimum version of IE used by Windows 8.
- Windows 8 introduces management changes that IT is not yet ready to address.
- Windows 8 is best used on hardware that is specifically made for Windows 8, such as touchscreen displays or touchpads. Other than the touchscreen/touchpad functionality, Windows 8 possesses similar functionality to Windows 7 from an end user’s point of view.
- PGP (UAB’s approved laptop encryption tool) is not supported on Windows 8 laptops. A recommended alternative is Microsoft’s Bitlocker product. (See Bitlocker with windows 8 for more information)
Based on the availability of new operating system versions and browser versions, UAB IT has updated its recommendations for both Windows and Mac versions/systems. In addition, with the release of Windows 8, PGP (UAB’s encryption tool for portable/laptop devices) is not currently supported. UAB IT is recommending Microsoft’s BitLocker product for encrypting Windows 8 devices.
For details see:Tweet
Monthly Training Newsletters
August 2013 - Protecting Your Passwords
September 2013 - Encryption - Protecting Sensitive Information
October 2013 - see links below for National Cyber Security Month publications
November 2013 - Data Protection
December 2013 - Permanently Erasing Data
January 2014 - Wifi Security
Link to Week 1 Article
Link to Week 2 Article
Link to Week 3 Article
Link to Week 4 Article
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_55
A significant security vulnerability was discovered in the Internet Explorer web browser over the weekend of April 26th and is being shared in mass media. This vulnerability could allow an attacker to compromise a Windows based computer should the end-user visit a website with appropriate content.
On May 1st, Microsoft released a fix to the IE vulnerability. Users should install this fix immediately. UAB IT will begin pushing this update Thursday afternoon May 1st. If IE is open, you will be required to perform a system reboot in order for the fix to take effect. If IE is closed, no reboot should be necessary. Once the fix has been applied to your system (and IE is open) you will have 24 hours to perform a reboot or your system will automatically reboot.
UAB IT continues to recommend that end-users use a two web browser methodology to limit the risks to the campus.
1. Use an up-to-date version of Internet Explorer for conducting UAB business on university supported web sites.
2. Use a second web browser (such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome) with the Java plug-in disabled for any general web surfing and accessing off-campus resources.
• On Windows 7 Install IE 10 and Java 1.7.0_55
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_55 are recommended for installation on Windows 7/8. UAB IT also recommends using a separate browser with JAVA disabled for Internet use. Use IE for 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).
• Install OSX 10.9 and Java 1.7.0_55
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).
Microsoft Dreamspark Premium is now available to all UAB STEM programs at no cost. The Dreamspark program supports technical education by providing access to Microsoft software for learning, teaching and research purposes for faculty & students engaged in a STEM program (science, technology, engineering, math).Tweet