Thursday, 01 October 2015 10:03

IT Update for October 2015

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October 2015
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.

Protect yourself online

UAB IT promoting online safety and security during October

UAB IT is joining organizations across the globe in efforts to recognize Cyber Security Awareness Month, which promotes the importance of online safety and security.

Learn more about UAB IT's plans for Cyber Security Awareness Month.

AskIT walk-up help desk moves to Sterne Library
AskIT's walk-up help desk has moved to Sterne Library, a more visible location to assist students, faculty and staff. The desk is located just behind the circulation desk on the first floor. Learn more here.

Test new interactive Administrative Systems page
UAB IT, working closely with Web Communications, is preparing to launch a redesigned Administrative Systems page that gives users an opportunity to configure the page to their needs. Learn more about the new page.

Tech support phone scam targets campus
UAB staff should be aware of a potential scam in which a caller posing as tech support staff asks for the IP address of office printers — possibly to try to gain access to recently printed documents or to try to scam you into paying for unnecessary support. Learn more here.

Office 2016 available this month
Microsoft Office 2016 for PCs will be available the first week of October for faculty and staff. It will be available for download from the UAB IT software site. Learn more here.
Reminder: New passphrase policy in effect
UAB's new password/passphrase policy, which went into effect last month, requires 15-character passwords, but those passwords will expire in one year, not three months. Implementation of the policy is being phased in; as your password expires, you will be required to change it to one with 15 characters. The purpose of the change is to make passwords more secure — the length of the password is doubling, but the password becomes exponentially more difficult to break. Learn more about the policy change and view a video with passphrase tips here.

UAB IT seeking to fill three key positions
Search committees are nearing the final stages of their work to hire three new positions for UAB IT: deputy chief information officer, chief information security officer and chief technology officer. View a video presentation to the search committees by CIO Dr. Curt Carver.
UAB working to strengthen FISMA compliance
The Office of the Vice President for Information Technology is working with the Office of the Vice President for Research and the research community to strengthen the University's approach to FISMA-moderate compliance for grants and make it easier to obtain grants that require FISMA compliance. 

 Research computing committee making progress
The research computing strategic planning committee, led by Dr. Iwan Alexander, dean of the School of Engineering, is working closely with Vice President for Research Dr. Richard Marchase to define the vision for research computing and build a shared governance structure and strategy for the future.
UAB joins beta program for new Advancement platform
UAB is one of six institutions nationwide participating in a beta program for Evolution, Ellucian’s new Microsoft Dynamics-based platform for advancement. UAB IT is partnering with UAB Advancement Services on the project, which kicked off in September. Evolution will ultimately replace the current Advancement module in the Banner system. "This is an invaluable opportunity to partner with Ellucian and our internal IT team," said Michelle Hussey, assistant vice president for Advancement. "Participating in the beta program will allow UAB to have direct influence on the final release of this cutting-edge advancement CRM." Work begins in December, and testing will run throughout 2016.

UAB IT aiding departments make data-driven decisions
UAB IT is helping university departments to foster a data-driven, decision-making culture.  Learn more about UAB IT's business intelligence efforts.

Faculty and staff onboarding process under review
UAB IT is working with UAB Human Resources and other key administrative offices to streamline the onboarding process for faculty and staff. 
Portal gives Professional Studies students more secure access
UAB IT worked with the Division of eLearning and Professional Studies to implement a new administrative portal for professional studies students. Previously, individuals enrolling in professional studies courses had to do so using an ID unique to that system; the new portal integrates the students into other systems across campus and gives them limited-access proto-BlazerIDs.

UAB hopes to eliminate duplication of effort on grade posting
UAB IT is working with UAB eLearning to develop an easier way for faculty to push their grade information from Canvas to Banner, which would eliminate some of the current duplication of effort by faculty.

UAB IT studying flexibility for publishing courses
UAB IT is working to give faculty more flexibility to schedule the publication of their courses in Canvas.
Carver: Tech partnerships can attract jobs to Birmingham
UAB CIO Dr. Curt Carver spoke Sept. 22 at TechBirmingham's monthly TechTuesday luncheon. Carver told members of the city's tech community that building trust and partnerships can help attract new businesses to Birmingham and the region. Carver also spoke about UAB IT's commitment to customer service and communication. "We don't do IT for IT's sake, we do IT for customers," he said. View Carver's presentation to TechBirmingham here.

TechJunction conference draws area tech professionals
UAB employees are participating in the Oct. 1 TechJunction conference, which is sponsored in part by TechBirmingham, of which UAB is a member. Dr. Curt Carver will moderate a panel on CIOs during the conference.

TechBridge partnership on the horizon
UAB IT is exploring ways to assist TechBridge, a non-profit organization that assists other non-profits with IT consulting and outsourcing. 
Student video contest promotes cyber security awareness
UAB IT's Enterprise Information Security unit is sponsoring an undergraduate student video contest for National Cyber Security Awareness Month. Learn more about the video contest.

Cyber security initiative participation high
Participation in UAB IT's campus-wide cyber security initiative is at 77 percent as of Sept. 30. Through the initiative, UAB is deploying Microsoft SCCM across campus in an effort to protect UAB's assets and better inventory servers and workstations. UAB IT has made available task and deployment guides and tutorials to assist campus IT professionals with implementation. Video of the kickoff meeting and the PowerPoint presentation is also available at the web site.
Next IDM system milestone: Email forwarding
UAB IT's identity management team has been busy migrating some of the key functionality from the legacy system to the new Oracle Identity Management system, which provides more robust security infrastructure for the systems that supports access to UAB systems. After a successful implementation of a new password policy, which went into effect on Sept. 15, the next major milestone will be to use the new system to perform email forwarding. The forwarding functionality allows all emails that are sent to the addresses to be routed to the correct backend mail servers that are assigned to each identity.

UAB IT studying encryption options
UAB IT is evaluating several vendors for a new encryption product which keep the current disk encryption for laptops but also add features to meet the ever growing security landscape. UAB IT is working with distributed IT staff on the encryption review. Several of the key features which are required for the product to be considered are: Management of its encryption method along with management of native windows and MAC encryption, the ability to encrypt files for use in email/cloud sharing, thumb drive encryption, compliance and reporting features. The product should also have a console which can be made available to distributed IT. The evaluation process is under way and a selection will be made in the coming months.
CLOUD STORAGE OPTIONS: Effective Oct. 1, UAB IT has a contract in place with Box. A technical review of the product has begun, and a trial with a limited number of users is under way. A go-live date for Microsoft OneDrive for faculty and staff is set for Oct. 31.

ATHLETICS PARTNERSHIP: The UAB Athletics Department and UAB IT are exploring ways that UAB IT can support athletics programs at UAB.

ALTERNATIVE CMS OPTIONS: Web Communications and UAB IT are partnering to look at new options for content management systems for campus web pages.

100-DAY REPORT: UAB IT is working on a report to highlight Dr. Curt Carver's first 100 days as chief information officer for UAB.
UAB IT has a comprehensive digital signage solution.

You can follow UAB IT on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Microsoft Office 2016 for PCs will be available for download for faculty and staff in early October.

Office 2016 will be available for download from the UAB IT software site, after Microsoft releases it to volume licensing customers.

Office 2016 has new versions of applications including Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook. The Office 2016 apps are designed for collaboration, with new features that remove barriers for team success and allow co-authoring and Skype in-app integration.

Quick Start Guides for Office 2016 are available here.

Office 2016 is already available for Mac users and is available for UAB students through Office 365.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015 19:11

Tech support phone scam targets UAB

UAB staff should be aware of a potential scam in which a caller posing as tech support staff asks for the IP address of office printers — possibly to try to gain access to recently printed documents or to try to scam you into paying for unnecessary support.

A UAB staff member recently fielded such a call.

Similar scams have occurred around the country in recent years. In some scams, the caller is attempting to gain access to the printer or other systems. In others, the caller pretends to offer support for a fee — which can rack up unnecessary charges.

The Federal Trade Commission offers tips for what to do if you suspect you are a victim.
Monday, 28 September 2015 19:22

Oracle working to address slowness in IE11

A known bug in Oracle systems is causing slowness when using Java 8 update 60 and Internet Explorer 11.

UAB IT has researched the issue and found that Oracle is working to address the known problem. If you are experiencing slowness in the Oracle applications which use Java 8 update 60 in Internet Explorer, there are a few workarounds.

To alleviate the slowness with IE11 and Java 8 update 60, you have the following options:

  • Wait until Oracle patch comes out and is tested and applied to UAB systems (will be after year end)
  • Uninstall Java 8u60 and install a previous secure version of Java (8u51)
  • Use Firefox with the current version of Java
UAB IT's normal recommendation is to use Internet Explorer and the latest version of Java. UAB IT update users once Oracle has resolved the slowness issue and systems have been updated.
Pre NCSAM Infographic
Stop. Think. Connect.

That’s the message that UAB IT and organizations across the globe are reinforcing in recognition of Cyber Security Awareness Month, which promotes the importance of online safety and security.

UAB IT will be posting daily security tips on its social media channels — Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — and is also sponsoring a video contest that invites undergraduate students to submit their own short films promoting online security.

Among the most important — but also easiest — things people can do to stay safe online are these tips:

Learn more about Cyber Security Awareness Month here

The Administratrive Systems page, which many UAB staff and students use to access systems and applications across campus, is becoming interactive. Those who want to test the new site can access it here; that temporary link is not available off campus. When the new site goes live, it will be available at the current Administrative Systems page link.

UAB Web Communications and UAB IT collaborated to redesign the page so that users can custom configure the buttons that access various systems, from Banner to Oracle to Xtender.

The default layout shows the systems in alphabetical order, but users can click the “Configure Layout” button to rearrange the buttons, add or remove them.

A user’s customized layout is retained in the web browser when he or she returns.

Active system alerts and other important messages will also be displayed on the page.

Redesigning the Administrative Systems page was an idea proposed on SPARK, UAB IT’s platform for crowdsourcing innovation.

UAB IT recommends as a best practice that campus users access systems through the Administrative Systems page, rather than bookmarking systems, so that they can get up-to-date information and alerts as well as the correct links to those systems.

The walk-up AskIT Help Desk will be relocating to Mervyn Sterne Library on Thursday, Sept. 24, to better serve students, faculty and staff.

AskIT will be located on the first floor behind the Sterne Library circulation desk after moving from its current location at the Center for Teaching and Learning. SterneLibraryMap

The move will also bring new hours for the AskIT Help Desk. Walk-in support will be available from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.

UAB IT’s main AskIT Help Desk and call center will remain located in Cudworth Hall.

In addition using the Sterne Library location for walk-in assistance, students, faculty and staff can contact AskIT by submitting an issue via email to; opening a ticket online at; and by calling AskIT at 205-996-5555.

Phone support hours will change slightly as well. Hours will be: 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Sunday, 20 September 2015 09:54

UPDATE: Canvas reports issues resolved

Canvas reports that its issues with login problems and slowness have been resolved.

Canvas was experiencing outages and slowness because of problems with Amazon Web Services. The problem was widespread among universities that use Canvas.

Subscribe to Canvas status updates here.
Friday, 04 September 2015 13:31

UAB IT hosts Cyber Security video contest

UAB IT’s information security department is sponsoring a National Cyber Security Awareness Month video contest. cybersecurityawareness

The top prize is $250.

All currently enrolled undergraduate students who are 19 years of age or older are eligible. The deadline is Oct. 23, 2015.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Decide whether you want to produce a video with a team or individually. A team cannot have more than four total members. Team or individual entrants may submit more than one video.
  • Pick one of the following five topics for your video message:
    • Keep a clean machine
    • Protect your personal information
    • Connect with care
    • Be web wise
    • Be a good online citizen
  • Additional details about the topics can be found at Stop. Think. Connect.
  • Read the video contest’s official guidelines and YouTube’s guidelines for uploading.
  • Create a YouTube account.
  • Organize the components of your video (camera shots, scripts, voiceover, written messages). Storyboards or outlines are commonly used for this purpose.
  • Filming your video can be done with a video camera, digital camera and/or a camera phone. You can even use drawings created on paper and scanned into your computer.
  • Edit your video to be no longer than 1 minute without credits.
  • Verify that your video meets the contest guidelines and YouTube’s uploading guidelines.
  • Upload your entry to YouTube and copy the link so that you can send it when you submit your entry form.
  • Submit your entry form. The entry form must include the YouTube link to the video and the contact information of the submitter(s).