Tuesday, 27 September 2016 13:54

Beware of phishing phone calls on campus

Some members of the UAB campus community have reported phishing phone calls from scammers who indicate there are IT problems.

One call indicated the user's IP address had been compromised. This is a common phone scam designed to try to get users to give personal information or to give access to their computer to the malicious callers. 

If you receive a suspicious call, please contact your departmental IT representative or AskIT at 205-996-5555. On-campus IT representatives can help determine if there is truly a problem with your computer.
Wednesday, 21 September 2016 15:47

Delayed emails a result of spam, phishing attacks

As a result of malicious phishing attacks, the UAB IT email system has had a large influx of spam over the past couple of days. 

The large volume of email generated resulted in congestion of message queues, causing some messages to be delayed for retransmission. Some other systems have blacklisted UAB addresses because of the spam.

The message retransmissions will be processed soon to address the delays. UAB IT has also taken action to have the UAB email system removed from blacklists.

UAB email users are urged to take precautions when clicking on links in email messages. Often malicious phishing attempts mimic UAB login screens. Check the URL to make sure you are logging in to an official UAB address; type a known address into your browser instead of clicking a link in an email. Learn more tips about avoiding phishing here.
A new phishing email that purports to be a message about changing your password is circulating among email users at UAB.

The fake email is likely an attempt to steal user information and should be deleted. Users who click on the link are directed to a site that mimics a UAB login site but has a non-UAB URL. A copy of the email is below:

Phishing password 092016
A similar fake email circulated recently with a message about payroll. UAB IT's Information Security division is actively working to block the phishing attempts.

If you receive an email with a hidden link such as “Click Here,” do the hover test. Hover your mouse over the link and look at the lower left pane to see where the link leads.


Look at the URL of the website you are visiting. 

To report suspected spam to AskIT, please follow the instructions here.

Follow these additional tips to avoid being a phishing victim:

  • Do NOT click links in messages that ask you to log in. Type a trusted Web address in your browser or Google for the Web site if you don’t know the address.
  • Never type personal, sensitive information (such as passwords or account numbers) on Web sites without verifying the Web site’s authenticity and security — look for an “https” in the address bar.
  • Verify the address. Malicious web sites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the address may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (.com vs. .edu).
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors can be a dead giveaway in phishing emails and subject lines.
  • If you are unsure whether a request is legitimate, contact the company directly. Do NOT use contact information provided in the request.
  • Don’t open attachments. They may contain viruses or malware that can infect your computer.
  • Protect your password. Information security and IT officials at both the university and UAB Hospital will never ask users for passwords or any other sensitive information.
  • Report suspicious activity. If you have any questions or you receive a suspicious email that you want to report, university employees and students can call the AskIT Help Desk at 205-996-5555. Hospital employees can call the HSIS Help Desk at 205-934-8888.
A phishing email purporting to be from a notification about payroll has hit several email inboxes among faculty and staff at UAB.

The fake email is likely an attempt to steal user information and should be deleted. Users who click on the link are directed to a site that mimics a UAB login site but has a non-UAB URL. A copy of the email is below:

Phishing 091916


If you receive an email with a hidden link such as “Click Here,” do the hover test. Hover your mouse over the link and look at the lower left pane to see where the link leads.

Look at the URL of the website you are visiting. 

To report suspected spam to AskIT, please follow the instructions here.

Follow these additional tips to avoid being a phishing victim:

  • Do NOT click links in messages that ask you to log in. Type a trusted Web address in your browser or Google for the Web site if you don’t know the address.
  • Never type personal, sensitive information (such as passwords or account numbers) on Web sites without verifying the Web site’s authenticity and security — look for an “https” in the address bar.
  • Verify the address. Malicious web sites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the address may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (.com vs. .edu).
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors can be a dead giveaway in phishing emails and subject lines.
  • If you are unsure whether a request is legitimate, contact the company directly. Do NOT use contact information provided in the request.
  • Don’t open attachments. They may contain viruses or malware that can infect your computer.
  • Protect your password. Information security and IT officials at both the university and UAB Hospital will never ask users for passwords or any other sensitive information.
  • Report suspicious activity. If you have any questions or you receive a suspicious email that you want to report, university employees and students can call the AskIT Help Desk at 205-996-5555. Hospital employees can call the HSIS Help Desk at 205-934-8888.
UAB IT wants to help protect students’ computers — for free.

The first Laptop Checkup for undergraduate students will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 4-5 at the Hill Student Center. Check-in will be in the front of the TechConnect store on the first floor, and the laptop security checks will take place in room 220.

Students are invited to bring their personal laptops for free security checks at the event, which helps kick off Cyber Security Awareness Month on campus. NCSAM

Volunteer technicians will provide security checks as well as free virus and malware removal for personal laptops. They will also install software and security updates, ensure that firewalls are enabled and update antivirus and operating systems.

Students who participate will also learn best practices for protecting their personal computers against security threats.

Technicians will meet with students on a first-come, first-served basis; comprehensive checkups can take from 30 to 60 minutes. Students may have a short waiting time to see a technician.

For issues that may take more than an hour to resolve, students will be referred to TechConnect, UAB IT’s technology storefront at the Hill Student Center.

University-owned computers will not be checked at the event.

“Secure computing is our top imperative at UAB IT,” said Brian Rivers, chief information security officer for UAB. “The Laptop Checkup is a way for us to raise awareness of information security and help serve students and protect their data.”
Monday, 05 September 2016 14:56

IT Update for September 2016

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September 2016
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.

Welcome back, Blazers!

UAB IT focuses on student technology needs

Students are a central focus for UAB IT, and as fall classes begin, there are a number of technology improvements designed to improve students' lives on campus. A stronger, faster network; new discounts on laptops at our TechConnect store; and expanded WiFi are just some of the improvements we have made. Read more about our commitment to student success here.

CAMPUS
UAB internet speed, capacity increases
A new partnership with content delivery network Akamai has increased internet speed and capacity for UAB, improving the potential for innovation and productivity for researchers, students, faculty and staff. Learn more about the partnership here.

UAB IT responds to student request for stronger WiFi
Expanded, stronger WiFi connections across campus will give students more places to study. New outdoor WiFi hotspots have been installed over the past several months. The SGA last spring requested improved WiFi coverage in a top ten list of technology needs presented to UAB IT leadership. Learn more here.

Easier software download process is coming this month
A faster, more convenient method for UAB faculty and staff to access software for UAB business purposes will debut this month. Learn more about the new process.

TechConnect expands repair services
TechConnect, UAB IT's technology storefront at the Hill Center, now offers a variety of technology repair services. The services, at competitive prices and in a convenient, on-campus location, are available for students, faculty and staff. Learn more here.

AskIT closed for Labor Day holiday
AskIT will be closed for the Labor Day holiday on Monday, Sept. 5, but you can still submit a ticket at askit.uab.edu. Regular hours will resume Tuesday, Sept. 6.
RESEARCH
Event to showcase research cyberinfrastructure
UAB faculty, staff and students are invited to attend Research Computing Day, which will highlight how UAB researchers are using the resources supported by IT. Registration for the event, which will be held Sept. 14, is free, but is required as seating is limited. Learn more here.

Dedication for high performance computer set for this month
UAB will celebrate its investment in research computing infrastructure with a dedication for the UAB high performance computer scheduled for later this month. Learn more about UAB's research computing environment here. UAB leadership has been instrumental in the investment in research computing. Learn more about that investment here.
TEACHING & LEARNING
UAB IT assists new Blazers on freshman move-in day
Representatives from UAB IT were on hand to answer technology questions as students moved into residence halls for the fall semester. UAB IT had already met many of the incoming freshmen through participation in new student orientation throughout the summer, and will participate in the Sept. 1 Student Life Day on the Campus Green. Students who need assistance on campus can visit the TechConnect store at the Hill Center or contact AskIT at 996-5555.

Automated messaging can improve student retention
UAB is piloting new automated communications in Canvas that will allow instructors to send messages to students who have missed class or who haven’t logged in to view information about the class. The intent of the messaging is student engagement and retention: Instructors can personalize the messages, but the idea is to give students a second chance when they might otherwise drop or fail the class. Eleven faculty members from the Collat School of Business are participating in the pilot and will provide feedback to improve the feature, which could be rolled out campus-wide for the spring semester. Faculty members can use the automated alerts through their Faculty Profiles.

Faculty Profiles expands with new features, reports
The past year has been a productive one for the Faculty Profiles system. Since the first of year, UAB has activated the Faculty Profiles Reporting module for all departments and schools currently using the Profiles system. These reports include new Faculty Evaluation reports and more than 30 Custom Reports that faculty can use to report on all aspects of their profile. Learn more here.
OPERATIONS & ADMINISTRATION
Upgraded central authentication more agile, scalable
UAB’s central authentication system saw 142,000 logins on the first day of fall classes — a workload UAB IT knew that the CAS would be able to handle because of extensive testing done over the summer. In recent weeks UAB IT upgraded its central authentication system, which allows users to log in to a number of UAB systems, including BlazerNET and the new Kronos timekeeping system. The upgraded technology is more agile and scalable and will have additional features, and the testing ensures that the system is reacting to the user load appropriately.

UAB Staff Council launches SPARK campaign
The UAB Staff Council has launched a SPARK campaign seeking input and ideas from UAB staff members. The SPARK campaign leverages a UAB IT-provided platform for crowdsourcing ideas. The Staff Council elected its executive committee over the summer and established subcommittees, and will begin formal meetings this month.
COMMUNITY
Seminar highlights local technology vendors
UAB's IT Strategic Plan offers insight into the kind of projects local vendors might be interested in supporting, Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver told business representatives at a seminar and trade show hosted by the university's Small Business Inclusion Office. "We need strategic partners," Carver told business owners, encouraging them to read the plan to learn more about plans for technology at UAB. UAB IT is planning an on-campus session for area vendors later this month so they can learn more about opportunities to partner with UAB IT. To request Dr. Carver as a speaker, click here.

Carver named to board of Alabama Supercomputer Authority
Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver has been appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to serve on the Alabama Supercomputer Authority Board of Directors. The Alabama Supercomputer Authority's mission is to provide a professional portfolio of information technology resources and services for the advancement of education, research, and economic development in Alabama. The authority works to develop and operate the statewide Alabama Research and Education Network and the Alabama Supercomputer Center.

Information Security staff speaks on internet safety
UAB IT's Paul Walker spoke recently at a lunchtime class sponsored by the UAB Employee Assistance and Counseling Center. His topic, Internet Safety for Children, gave parents tips to help their children protect themselves and their online reputation. Any group interested in scheduling a similar talk can contact AskIT.
SECURITY
Security tip: Know your personal backup plan
Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops continue to provide us with the opportunity to work "on the go," but this added convenience could also mean more risk. These personal devices are making it easier to store and access information, but they are also easy to steal or misplace. Do you know what to do if your device is lost or stolen? For more tips on securing your data, click here.
TECH CORNER
New campus edge protections coming later this year
UAB IT is continuing plans to update and modernize its campus edge protections to limit the impact of attempted intrusions by external attackers. UAB will be modifying the border firewall posture later this year to what is known as “default-deny,” a best practice for enterprise environments. This posture will improve the security of the campus network, information systems and any private or sensitive data stored at UAB. UAB IT will be working with departments across campus to implement the changes over the next several months.

Alabama IT Symposium coming in November
The inaugural Alabama IT Symposium, set for Nov. 10 at the Doubletree Hilton in Birmingham, is a one-day, executive level event designed to bring together IT management teams in Alabama. IT leaders will have the opportunity to network, collaborate and learn from their peers. Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver will kick off the day with a keynote presentation. Learn more about the event here.
ON THE HORIZON
CYBERSECURITY AWARENESS: UAB IT is planning several events in October to coincide with National Cyber Security Awareness Month, including training for campus IT professionals and a free laptop checkup for students. The laptop checkup is set for Oct. 4-5 at the Hill Student Center and will provide free security checks and consultations, malware removal and antivirus help, and general troubleshooting. 

1GB TO DESKTOPS: This fall UAB IT will be building the infrastructure to support 1GB connections to desktops on campus. Learn more about the upgrade plans here.
DID YOU KNOW?
EASY PASSWORD RESET: You can easily reset your BlazerID password if you are signed up for automated password reset through BlazerID Central. Sign up a cell phone number through the B-Alert Identity feature to get text messages to reset your password, so you can bypass AskIT.

DON'T GET HOOKED: No one at UAB or law enforcement agencies will ever call to ask for your password or to demand money. Last year, several students and their parents were targeted by phone scams, with malicious callers impersonating police or university officials to try to steal money or personal information. Learn more here.
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SOE Pic 1The Faculty Profiles team demonstrated the system at the School of Education Faculty Resource Fair in August. From left are Midge Ray, Assistant Dean School of Health Professions Honors Program; Ralph O’Flinn, Applications Engineer II – Enterprise/Faculty Profiles Project Technical Lead; and Divya Kondepudi, Functional Systems Analyst.

The past year has been a productive one for the Faculty Profiles system. Since the first of year, UAB has activated the Faculty Profiles Reporting module for all departments and schools currently using the Profiles system. These reports include new Faculty Evaluation reports and more than 30 Custom Reports that faculty can use to report on all aspects of their profile. In the last few weeks, UAB has also released Aggregate Reports that can be used by chairmen, deans and their administrative delegates. In June, the School of Health Professions used Faculty Profiles for their faculty performance evaluations.

Starting last month and continuing into September, the Faculty Profiles team is training all faculty members and their staff who are taking part in T32 grants. This will add more than 500 new faculty members and their delegates from the Schools of Medicine, Health Professions, Nursing, Public Health, Dentistry and Optometry. We continue to evaluate ways to assist them with their T32 data requirements.

Also trained this year were Art & Art History, School of Dentistry, and School of Public Health. All trainings in total added more than 800 new faculty and staff to the system.

On Aug. 23, the Faculty Profiles team had an exhibit at the School of Education Faculty Resource Fair down at Region’s Field. The team demonstrated the tool, including the new reporting function, and answered questions. 

Currently in development are the ORCID and VIVO integrations as well as the upgrade to Elements from 4.17 to 5.1, which will facilitate an even more friendly user experience.
Tuesday, 30 August 2016 20:29

Internet speed, capacity increases

A new partnership with content delivery network Akamai has increased internet speed and capacity for UAB, improving the potential for innovation and productivity for researchers, students, faculty and staff.

Akamai, a global leader in content delivery services, works as a caching server, storing content locally on the university network — clearing space for other traffic. Bandwidth should now increase 20 to 60 percent. For example, streaming Netflix content would be cached and delivered on campus, so users will see faster, higher quality video.

And because users across campus are not competing as much for internet bandwidth, capacity increases for researchers uploading their findings or staff members sharing documents. 

"We're changing from a scarcity mentality to an abundance mentality," said Chief Technology Officer Shawn Ellis, noting that in addition to increasing internet capacity, UAB IT has introduced unlimited email and unlimited storage through UABbox. "When you have abundance, innovation and productivity can happen."

UAB is the first university and the second institution in the state to sign on with the company. The city of Montgomery, with others, is also engaging in a partnership with Akamai.

UAB IT’s planned move to 100 GB connections is what made the university attractive to Akamai.
Monday, 29 August 2016 13:00

Research Computing Day set for Sept. 14

UAB IT's Research Computing division will host a Research Computing Day on Sept. 14, giving faculty, students and staff an opportunity to find out what research work is being done using the resources supported by UAB IT.

The Research Computing Day will also highlight trends in research cyberinfrastructure, with industry leaders participating in the discussion.

"UAB researchers will be able to share how they are using campus cyberinfrastructure to enhance their research, gain new insights from peers and industry experts and contribute towards the growth of research infrastructure at UAB," said Dr. Puri Bangalore, interim director of research computing at UAB and assistant director of the UAB Center for Information Assurance and Joint Forensics Research.

Research Computing Day will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Hill Student Center, ballrooms C and D. 

The event is open to all UAB faculty, staff and students. There is no registration fee; however, seating is limited and registration is required. Complete registration here.

September CyberSecuritySlide

Mobile phones, tablets, and laptops continue to provide us with the opportunity to work "on the go," but this added convenience could also mean more risk. These personal devices are making it easier to store and access information, but they are also easy to steal or misplace. Do you know CyberSecurityTip Iconwhat to do if your device is lost or stolen?

  • Secure your devices. Use a passphrase, password, or fingerprint to secure your device from casual intrusion.
  • Turn on location tracking. If your device has a "Find Me" feature (such as Apple's iCloud service to "Find My iPhone") make sure it is enabled. Or investigate third-party software to help you recover your devices.
  • Encrypt and backup information. Determine if your device encrypts your data at rest. That way if it's stolen, you just lose the device and don't open yourself to identity theft. If your device doesn't use encryption by default, enable it or install encryption software. Don't forget to backup information on all of your mobile devices too.
  • Write it down! Record the manufacturer, model, and serial numbers of your mobile devices and store the info in a safe place.
  • Notify providers. Keep important phone numbers such as your cell phone provider or IT support department handy so you can quickly report the device as lost or stolen. In some cases the cell provider or your support desk may be able to deactivate and wipe the device for you remotely.
  • File a report. If your device is stolen, file a police report immediately.