After Monday’s tragic fire at the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, security officials are warning of the potential for fundraising scams.

Events like the Notre Dame fire generate legitimate fundraising attempts, but those interested in helping should be aware of the possibility of fraud.

The Federal Trade Commission offers tips on charitable giving, including:

  • Do some research online, even searching for the name of a charity plus “complaint,” “review,” or “scam.”
  • Be careful how you pay. Don’t give donations in cash, by gift card or by wiring money; instead, use credit card or check. Keep a record of all donations.
  • Keep scammers’ tricks in mind. Don’t let anyone rush you into a donation. Be aware that scammers can spoof caller ID to make phone numbers appear local.

For more tips, visit this FTC page.

This month, UAB IT will host representatives from Adobe, a strategic partner in UAB’s technology and academic goals.

Students, faculty and staff are invited to a town hall titled “The Deepest Dive: Critical Digital Literacy across the Curriculum,” with speaker Todd Taylor, the Eliason Distinguished Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The town hall will take place Tuesday, March 26, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. in the Cudworth Building auditorium.

While at UAB, Adobe representatives will also meet with UAB President Ray L. Watts, M.D., as well as members of UAB IT’s leadership team and community leaders from the City of Birmingham, TechBirmingham and Innovation Depot.

This year, Adobe launched a Creative Campus program, which encourages higher education institutions to recognize the value of teaching digital literacy skills to prepare students for success in the classroom and in the modern economy.

Three years ago, campus students, faculty and staff helped craft an IT Strategic Plan to help empower the UAB community to greatness.

This year, as UAB IT looks to complete that plan, the campus community is again needed to help collaborate on the next three-year IT strategic plan.

"We are asking you to help us define the moments on your work or academic journey that would benefit from technology," said Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D. "We will be asking, 'What's your moment?' Those digital moments — when your experiences and technology not only collide to create success, but also to delight — will drive the next IT Strategic Plan."

Join UAB IT to kick off the IT strategic planning process at a town hall at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 14, at Cudworth Auditorium.

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With spring on the way, it’s always a good time to do a digital spring cleaning of your devices.

For your UAB computers and devices, keep this motto in mind: If you don’t need it, delete it. For tips on how to reduce data on your UAB machines, refer to UAB IT’s data reduction page.

And as you upgrade your personal devices to the newest options, do you recycle the old equipment?

Take steps now to remove anxiety later that forgotten sensitive files on your last laptop could become a source of embarrassment or identity theft. Trying to securely delete data at the time you decommission equipment can turn into a multi-hour chore and a source of stress, but it doesn't need to be that way.

Make sure saved copies of your tax filings, personal photos, and other sensitive files can't be retrieved by the next person with access to your computer's drive by making the drive unreadable to anyone else. Dragging files to the trash or recycle bin doesn't remove data — it just removes the retrieval path to the file and marks that storage space available for other data to occupy sometime in the future. Your pirate treasure is still buried, but the map is missing. "Secure file deletion" functions go a step further to overwrite the data in those locations with random bits immediately.

The introduction and growth of solid state drives in consumer electronics, however, makes overwriting the data in these spaces less dependable than in the standard hard drives of the past. Today's "delete/overwrite" protection comes most reliably from full disk encryption (aka whole disk encryption), which encrypts all data on the machine — including the operating system and temporary files you weren't even aware you created. Follow the motto of a famous infomercial to "set it [full disk encryption] and forget it [the password/key]!" Even if someone removes the drive and puts it into a different machine, the encryption remains in place.

Beginning in March, UAB will roll out a plan to require faculty, staff and students to use Duo two-factor authentication to protect their BlazerID credentials.

Passwords alone no longer provide adequate protection against cyberattacks. Duo two-factor authentication adds a second layer of security to your BlazerID account. Attempts have been made by cyber criminals to change direct deposit information in order to steal student refunds and UAB employee paychecks. Duo was implemented to protect UAB students, faculty and staff against such attacks.

Once you sign up for Duo, you will use a smart phone, analog phone or UAB-provided token to finish logging in to UAB systems. You’ll use that credential to approve or deny login attempts on new devices or browsers — so you have control if someone else tries to log in with your BlazerID. Kronos and Canvas do not require Duo two-factor authentication to log in, but email, Oracle and many other systems do.

Students, faculty and campus staff can sign up for Duo at any time at uab.edu/2factor, where you can also learn more about the initiative and the various methods for using Duo two-factor.

And the best part? When you enroll in Duo, you never have to change your BlazerID password again, unless your password is compromised.

If you do not voluntarily enroll in Duo, you will be automatically enrolled.

  • The automatic enrollment process for students will begin after students have registered for classes for the upcoming term.
  • The automatic enrollment process for campus employees and faculty will begin March 18.

Check out the two-factor web site to learn more about the methods for using Duo two-factor authentication, as well as instructions for installing Duo on your smart phone or tablet and

On March 4, Microsoft is making a change intended to improve security when sending emails via Outlook mobile.

For those who use Outlook mobile on iOS and Android, Outlook will clearly alert you when an external recipient — in our case, someone outside the University — is in the email address list when composing or replying to email messages.

MicrosoftExternalRecipientAlert

When you are composing or replying to a message with external recipients using Outlook for iOS or Android, the external recipient email address is highlighted in the address list as well as in the body of the message if @mentioned. A small notice will be visible in the message header during the “compose” or “reply” process and is not visible by external recipients once sent.

Microsoft intends the external recipient notice to improve security and help prevent sensitive information from being inadvertently emailed outside your organization.

The notice will only appear if you are using Outlook mobile on iOS and Android.



UAB faculty, staff and students should be aware of potential scam emails that impersonate academic and business unit leaders at the University, even University President Ray L. Watts, M.D.

In the past several weeks, faculty and staff in certain schools at UAB have received scam emails that impersonate someone in a leadership position in their department. The scammers typically send a request for the person to complete an errand, or even buy certain items or wire money.

If you hover your mouse pointer over the email address, you will see that it does not come from a UAB address.

If you receive an email asking you to purchase gift cards or wire money, the request is almost certainly a scam. If you have a question about the authenticity of such an email, report it to UAB IT using PhishMe Reporter or by forwarding to phishing@uab.edu.

Do not respond to the suspected scam email.

Visit uab.edu/phishing for more tips.

TechTools

Imagine ordering a bundled computer package for a new employee — desktop or laptop, keyboard, mouse, monitor — and getting it delivered in less than a day.

UAB IT is preparing to debut TechTools, a new program through which the university will maintain a stock of Dell computers and accessories that will help streamline the ordering process, reducing a three-week timeline to 24 hours.

“TechTools allows customers to place a single request for a new computer bundle, which our team can then deliver within a working day once payment is approved,” said Jamie Witter, associate director for IT Client Services.

TechTools will launch in pilot form later this month for select Desktop Services customers. It is expected to expand to all campus academic and business units later this year.

Currently, customers must request a quote from UAB IT Desktop Services, then order and receive the equipment, then create another request to have the equipment prepared and installed — a process which can take upwards of three weeks.

The TechTools program streamlines the process so that customers make one request, choosing from a set of stock computer models, with the option to bundle accessories as needed. Once payment goes through the approval process, UAB IT Desktop can install the new computer, which is already configured to UAB standards.

UAB IT has negotiated reduced pricing for standard models, so UAB can expect further savings on computer purchases.

Microsoft has released an out-of-band security update that fixes an actively exploited vulnerability in Internet Explorer. This vulnerability was discovered by Google’s Threat Analysis Group and has been actively used in targeted attacks.

UAB IT recommends all Windows desktops be updated, as the vulnerability is being actively exploited. These updates will be applied to UAB IT Desktop customer systems during the upcoming maintenance window this weekend.

More information on the vulnerability and the released update is available here.

UAB IT’s Cellular Services office will be moving to the Administration Building as of Friday, Dec. 7.

Ed Ramsey, who oversees cellular services and device distribution, will be moving from the TechConnect Store at the Hill Student Center to 515A in the Administration Building.

Contact Ramsey at 205-934-1527 if you have questions.

UAB IT is adding 3 petabytes of storage to its Cheaha high-performance computing cluster over the holiday break, which will provide more storage capacity for the fastest supercomputer in the state.

Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., assistant vice president for research computing at UAB, announced the addition at the annual Research Computing Day held Nov. 7.

Zottola, who joined UAB last summer, has been meeting with researchers across campus to get an idea of their computing needs.

“As we grow research computing, it will take all of us together at UAB,” Zottola said. “It’s essential for us to understand what the research community is doing and what their needs are.”

Researchers at UAB use the supercomputer for studies such as comparing brain scans for Parkinson’s disease research. Cheaha’s power, which has increased to 450 teraflops — a 45-fold increase — over the past three years with the addition of new processing units. The supercomputer can process brain images in hours, rather than the months or years it would take on normal machines. Cheaha can give researchers a competitive advantage when they seek grants and collaborate with other institutions.

The research computing team itself has tripled over the past year, from three full-time staff to 10. Scientists and developers on the team work closely with researchers to help determine their needs and analyze their data.

That team, Zottola said, is most important to the success of research computing at UAB.

“The computer’s performance is just a number,” he said. “It’s the people who make it run.”

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Santa Claus will be busy in December, appearing at three events with UAB IT as he helps promote the UAB Toy Drive.

First up is the Dec. 4 home basketball game, at which UAB will take on North Alabama. UAB IT will be in the lobby collecting new, unwrapped toys for the UAB Toy Drive, with Santa on hand to greet fans.

Then from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Santa will be taking free photos outside the TechConnect store at the Hill Student Center. Stop by to visit the store, drop off a toy for the Toy Drive and tell Santa what you want for Christmas.

Finally, Santa will help wrap up the UAB Toy Drive on Thursday, Dec. 6, with the annual Drive-Thru Santa event outside the Administration Building. Toys donated across campus will be collected there for pickup by the U.S. Marines for Toys for Tots.

Toy Drive drop-off boxes are located across campus, in buildings that include Cudworth Hall, Hill Student Center, Heritage Hall, Medical Towers, Worrell Building, UAB Police Department, Mervyn Stern Library, Facilities, Hoehn Engineering Building, Lister Hill Library, School of Optometry, RSB and School of Nursing.

Santa Claus will be busy in December, appearing at three events with UAB IT as he helps promote the UAB Toy Drive.

First up is the Dec. 4 home basketball game, at which UAB will take on North Alabama. UAB IT will be in the lobby collecting new, unwrapped toys for the UAB Toy Drive, with Santa on hand to greet fans.

Then from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, Dec. 5, Santa will be taking free photos outside the TechConnect store at the Hill Student Center. Stop by to visit the store, drop off a toy for the Toy Drive and tell Santa what you want for Christmas.

Finally, Santa will help wrap up the UAB Toy Drive on Thursday, Dec. 6, with the annual Drive-Thru Santa event outside the Administration Building. Toys donated across campus will be collected there for pickup by the U.S. Marines for Toys for Tots.

Toy Drive drop-off boxes are located across campus, in buildings that include Cudworth Hall, Hill Student Center, Heritage Hall, Medical Towers, Worrell Building, UAB Police Department, Mervyn Stern Library, Facilities, Hoehn Engineering Building, Lister Hill Library, School of Optometry, RSB and School of Nursing.

Ferrill RobRob Ferrill has been named assistant vice president and chief information security officer for UAB following a national search.

Ferrill, who currently serves as chief information security officer for UAB Medicine, will start his new position on Jan. 1, 2019. He also serves as HIPAA security officer for both the Health System and the University.

“Security is our most important IT imperative at UAB, and Rob brings a wealth of experience to this position, which is key to our goal of creating a secure computing environment through policies, training and technology,” said Vice President and Chief Information Officer Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D. “Rob partnered with UAB IT on a number of shared governance projects over the past few years and will help bring new ideas as we chart a path toward a new strategic plan in the coming year.”

Ferrill is a graduate of Auburn University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in management information systems. He holds the CISSP certification, considered the world’s premier cybersecurity certification, and held a number of others previously. He has more than 25 years of experience in information technology, 19 of them focused on information security.

At UAB Medicine, he has led a team of security professionals responsible for developing, maintaining, overseeing and operating security tools, processes and policies. He also oversees protection of information assets via security event management, risk management, technology reviews, and incident response and digital forensics.

“I am extremely grateful to begin this new season of life as the CISO for UAB,” Ferrill said. “Additionally, I am excited to be joining the skilled and adept leadership team that is already in place. I look forward to serving the University to the best of my ability.”

Members of the search committee included Brian Rivers, former UAB CISO and now chief technology officer; Cindy Jones, director of security risk management for UAB IT; Teresa Bragg, chief risk and compliance officer for UAB; Chip Bivins, chief audit officer for UAB; Julio Rivera, associate professor in Collat School of Business; Alesia Jones, chief human resources officer for UAB; and Kendra Thompson, personnel generalist for UAB IT.

2018 Toy Drive Web

For the 25th year, UAB students and employees will come together to make the holidays brighter for area children in need.

UAB IT is kicking off UAB's 25th annual Toy Drive on Friday, Nov. 9. UAB IT has organized the Toy Drive for more than 10 years.

To participate, bring new, unwrapped toys to any of the Toys for Tots boxes across campus. Boxes will be placed at the Administration Building, academic buildings, and Hill Student Center, among other locations.

Toys collected in the drive are donated to Toys for Tots. UAB is among the largest contributors to the Jefferson County Toys for Tots effort. 

Volunteers will pick up the toys the morning of Thursday, Dec. 6, 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 fourth annual Drive-Thru Santa event.
Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., associate vice president for research computing, has been elected to serve on the Mission Committee for the Coalition for Academic Scientific Computation.

CASC is an educational non-profit organization with 86 member institutions representing many of the nation's most forward-thinking universities and computing centers. The Mission Committee is charged with charting the future course of the organization, which is dedicated to advocating the use of the most advanced computing technology to accelerate scientific discovery.

Zottola has also been nominated for election as secretary of the Executive Committee.

"I am pleased that UAB will have a voice in shaping the future of CASC, an organization that includes so many high-powered research universities," said Zottola, who joined the University in June and serves as chief architect for UAB Research Computing, including the state's fastest supercomputer.

Need to conceal some unflattering surroundings during a video conference call? You can now blur your background when in a conference or meeting in Microsoft Teams.

To start a meeting with background blur, on the Choose your audio and video settings screen when you’re joining the meeting, move the blur slider — the one to the right of the video slider — to the right. FYI, this only works for scheduled meetings.

To turn on background blur during a meeting, click More options > Blur my background.

Microsoft is still working on making this available to all devices.

To find out if it’s available on your device, just try the methods described above.

Note:  Background blurring might not prevent sensitive information from being visible to other meeting participants.

Learn more about Microsoft Teams at UAB here.

Learn more about background blur here.

If you’re a Duo user, you already know that the best thing about the 2-factor authentication service is that you never have to change your BlazerID password again. But hopefully you also know that the easiest way to use Duo 2-factor authentication is with the push notification through the Duo app.

The Duo Push is the easiest method for using the 2-factor authentication tool, and it’s recommended by UAB IT. When you click the “Send me a Push” button when logging in, you’ll get a notification on your mobile device to open the Duo app. When you open it, the app displays a green button and a red button. Touching the green button completes the 2FA login process, while the red button cancels it. If you’re expecting a Push and haven’t received it, open the app and then swipe down. This often brings up the Push notification and allows you to complete the 2FA process.

You also can use the Duo app to generate a passcode, and this feature works even if your device has no Internet connection or cellular signal. When you’re at the Duo portal, click the “Enter a Passcode” button. Then, in the Duo app on your phone, click the down arrow to the right of “UAB-BlazerID.” This generates a six-digit, one-time code that you can type in to the Duo portal in order to complete the 2FA process.

These two methods are much easier to use than receiving passcodes from Duo via SMS texting. 

If you do not see the “Send me a Push” option in the Duo portal and only see a button for entering passcodes, your phone may not have been properly enrolled for use with Duo when you first created an account. All iPhone and Android phone users should have the Duo app installed and should use it for logging in with Duo. If you have an iPhone or Android phone and only see the “Enter a Passcode” option in the Duo portal, contact AskIT at 996-5555. A Help Desk representative can help ensure your phone is properly configured so you can use the Push or generate a Passcode features.

For additional information, all Duo users are welcome to visit uab.edu/2factor to learn more about using Duo with the phone or tablet of their choice.

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Learn more about leveraging the power of computers to grow the depth of our investigation and research at Research Computing Day on Wednesday, Nov. 7.

Research Computing Day at UAB is an annual event that welcomes discussions on science, engineering, the arts and humanities focused on the drive to open new research frontiers with advances in technology.

The event, which opens with a welcome from UAB Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Alumni Theater at Hill Student Center. Register here. Lunch will be provided.

UAB is home to the state’s fastest supercomputer, named Cheaha after Alabama’s highest peak. Whether computers are used to increase the accuracy of a model, to interpret the ever-growing stream of data from new image collections and instruments or to engage with peers around the globe, UAB’s status as a leading research community depends on the ability to incorporate these capabilities into the research process. The focus of this year’s Research Computing Day will highlight successes, preview enhancements and be an opportunity for the community to help shape strategic direction.

New Assistant Vice President for Research Computing Ralph Zottola, Ph.D., will provide a review of what he has heard from faculty to date about their research computing needs. Other topics include:

  • Supporting world-class science on a Leadership-Class Supercomputing System, with Glenn Brook, Ph.D., from the Joint Institute for Computational Science at Oak Ridge National Lab.
  • Research Computing Use Cases, with Jelai Wang and John-Paul Robinson
  • Research Data Landscape, with John Osborne, Zottola and Robinson
  • A panel discussion on research engagement beyond high-performance computing, moderated by Zottola.

Learn more about UAB research computing here.

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Statistical software Stata is now available free for active students, faculty and staff at UAB.

Stata an integrated statistical software package that provides everything you need for data analysis, data management and graphics. Stata is primarily used by researchers in the fields of economics, biomedicine and political science. Stata obtains and manipulates data and has a command line with a graphical user interface.

Here’s how to access Stata:


Training resources:
Stata is the latest software title to be offered free; earlier this year, UAB IT began offering NVivo for free as well. NVivo and Stata presented UAB IT with an opportunity to provide free software to empower researchers, students and staff at minimal cost. Other software — such as Adobe Creative Cloud, which is offered at a significant discount — often represents significant costs the University cannot absorb.