The AskIT Help Desk will have special hours over the Thanksgiving holiday week, Nov. 21-28, 2015.

Walk-up help desk

AskIT's walk-up help desk in Sterne Library will be closed Saturday, Nov. 21, and Sunday, Nov. 22. The walk-up help desk will be open regular hours Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 23-24, and will close at noon on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

The AskIT help desk in Sterne Library will be closed Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 26-28.

Phone support

AskIT's phone support will be available regular hours every day except Thursday, Nov. 26, and Friday, Nov. 27, when the phone support office will be closed along with the university.
Tuesday, 17 November 2015 11:58

UAB IT set to kick off 22nd annual Toy Drive

Max GirlsSanta Claus poses with some adoring fans at the UAB Toy Drive's 2014 "Drive-Thru Santa" event.

UAB IT is looking to make the holidays a little brighter for some children in need.

The department is kicking off UAB’s 22nd annual Toy Drive on Monday, Nov. 30. UAB IT has organized the Toy Drive for more than 10 years.

Toys collected in the drive will be donated to Toys for Tots. Eric Thompson, who is leading the effort for the fourth year, said UAB IT is proud to organize the UAB Toy Drive. UAB is the largest contributor to the local Toys for Tots marinesUAB IT employees and U.S. Marines with the large collection of toys donated by UAB employees and students in 2014.

“Every child deserves a happy holiday,” Thompson said. "We are grateful for the support of UAB employees and students to this campaign year after year."

Boxes to collect toy donations will be located in buildings across campus, including the Administration Building, Athletics building, Cudworth, Rust, Facilities, Hoehn Engineering building, Lister Hill Library, Optometry, RSB and School of Nursing. Anyone interested in participating can email Eric Thompson.

New, unwrapped toys are needed for the toy drive. UAB IT and UAB Police Department volunteers will pick up the toys the morning of Thursday, Dec. 17, 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 second annual Drive-Thru Santa event.
Monday, 16 November 2015 14:48

Howard joins UAB IT as deputy CIO

Howard RobertRobert Howard has joined UAB IT as associate vice president and deputy chief information officer.

Howard has 19 years of experience in information technology at higher education institutions, most recently as chief information officer at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga. He has also served as assistant vice president of academic and institutional technology support at Miami University of Ohio and director of IT partnerships at the University of Georgia.

In his IT career, Howard has focused on developing high-performing teams and partnerships to solve institutional challenges with technology, including modernizing infrastructure. He has also worked to increase staff development, improve IT budgeting strategies, enhance business procedures around enrollment services and cultivate relationships with faculty, staff and students.

"Robert brings experience and energy to the position of deputy CIO," said Dr. Curt Carver, vice president and CIO. "He will help us develop a world-class IT organization for UAB."

Howard received a bachelor's degree in cell biology and microbiology from the University of Georgia; a master's degree in executive leadership and organizational change from Northern Kentucky University; and an MBA with a concentration in healthcare administration from Georgia Southern University.

"My wife and I and our three children are looking forward to making Birmingham home and becoming an active part of this vibrant community," Howard said.

Members of the search committee included Chairman Dr. Harold Jones, dean of the School of Health Professions; Dr. Suzanne Austin, senior vice provost; W. John Daniel, University counsel; Dr. Lauretta Gerrity, senior associate vice president for research administration; Alesia Jones, chief human resources officer; Robert McMains, senior facilities officer; Dr. Robert Palazzo, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Michelle Robinson, assistant dean in the School of Dentistry; Heather Maddox White, director of administrative and fiscal affairs for UAB IT; and David Yother, director of enterprise technology solutions for UAB IT.

"I would like to thank the members of the deputy CIO search committee, led by Dean Jones, for their work in identifying three excellent candidates, allowing us to fill this key position," Carver said.
Monday, 09 November 2015 22:13

100 wins test

Monday, 09 November 2015 15:24

IT Update for November 2015

November 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.

New cloud storage service

OneDrive for faculty and staff debuts Nov. 2

Beginning Nov. 2, UAB campus faculty and staff will have access to a OneDrive account with 1TB of file storage and the ability to download Office 365 apps for desktop and mobile use. 

Learn more about Microsoft OneDrive and how to access your account.

Howard joining UAB IT as deputy CIO
Robert Howard will join UAB IT on Nov. 16 as associate vice president and deputy chief information officer. Howard has 19 years of experience in information technology at higher education institutions, most recently as CIO at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Ga. Learn more here.

100 day-letter: Find out where we've been and what's ahead
Vice President and CIO Dr. Curt Carver has shared with the UAB campus a letter detailing UAB IT's progress over his first 100 days — including new initiatives and services — as well as plans for the future. Read the letter here.
reThink Project: New service portal gets review
Focus groups of IT professionals from across campus got a peek at a new user-friendly service portal, which is the customer-facing centerpiece of UAB IT's transition to ServiceNow, an industry-leading tool that incorporates best practices for IT service management. UAB IT sought feedback from IT professionals on the new portal, which will soon undergo testing for a planned launch in late January 2016. Customers will be able to browse a service catalog, order services, report issues with services and equipment and search a knowledge base through the new portal. Learn more about the reThink project.

UAB electronic directory accessible by BlazerID, password
To better protect students, staff and faculty, personal information in the UAB online directory is now accessible only by BlazerID and password. The change was made to help protect members of the UAB community from harassment and scamming. Information for units and entities does not require a login. Learn more about the change.

Password length: Longer is better, recommendations say
Longer passwords — like the 15-character passwords that UAB now requires — are harder to crack and should avoid single dictionary words or easy patterns. Learn more password do’s and don’ts here.
Box trial will get under way soon
A beta trial of unlimited storage through an enterprise agreement with Box will be getting under way soon. The cloud storage service will be provided by Box through Internet2.

Research computing committee to meet this month
The research computing committee, chaired by Dr. Iwan Alexander, dean of the School of Engineering, will reconvene this month to continue development of a research computing strategic plan.
Administrative Systems page now interactive
UAB's administrative systems page now has an interactive layout that allows users to choose their own configuration of the buttons that access various UAB systems, such as Banner and Oracle. Learn more about the redesigned page.

Streamlined login process can help prospective students
UAB IT worked with the Office of Student Recruiting and Retention to help streamline the process of authentication for prospective students, making it easier for future Blazers to schedule visits to campus and research enrollment.

UAB IT working with SoPH IT teams to evaluate tech needs
At the request of the dean of the School of Public Health, UAB IT is working together with the IT teams in the School of Public Health to conduct a school-wide IT needs analysis. Meetings are scheduled with departments, school leaders, and their respective faculty, researchers and staff. UAB IT’s recommendations are expected by late November.

UAB IT partners with UAB Athletics for IT support
UAB IT is working with UAB Athletics to provide IT support, a partnership that will create a competitive advantage for Blazer teams through technology. UAB IT will provide desktop support, office automation and collaboration support.
UAB IT assists Faculty Senate with SPARK ideas campaign
UAB IT is expanding its SPARK crowdsourcing platform to other areas of campus. The UAB Faculty Senate has launched an ideas campaign to help determine what issues the senate should focus on in 2016. The Faculty Senate SPARK campaign has attracted eight new ideas and 100 votes so far.

Faculty experience task force to convene soon 
The UAB Faculty Senate is partnering with UAB IT to convene a faculty experience task force to enhance the work experiences of all UAB faculty through technology. The first meeting is being scheduled before the end of the year.

Email assistance helps Registrar's office respond to students
UAB IT worked with the Registrar’s office to streamline email communications from students regarding questions about graduation. Students can now email, a shared inbox for the Registrar’s office that will help facilitate better customer service for students.
UAB IT Leader Team helps at Habitat build
UAB IT employees pitched in with other members of UAB's administration Friday, Oct. 23, at the UAB Habitat for Humanity build, a project coordinated by the UAB Benevolent Fund. The dedication of the house is set for Tuesday, Nov. 3.

UAB IT offers security advice to Community College leaders
UAB IT information security staff made a presentation to the Alabama Community College Presidents fall conference last month, offering advice on preventative measures that all organizations should take to limit the risk due to data breaches. 
In wake of phone scams, protect your online information
Scammers have continued to target UAB students — and even their parents — with threatening phone calls demanding money. As a result, UAB has password-protected the personal information in its online directory, but students and staff are urged to protect all of their information online. Learn more tips to protect yourself.

Malicious email attachments could hold files for ransom
UAB users were hit recently with emails containing malicious attachments that could encrypt users' files, enabling attackers to hold the files for ransom. Learn more here.

Late-night video reminds us to safeguard passwords
Want an example of how NOT to safeguard your password? Jimmy Kimmel Live showcased just how easily people can be susceptible to social engineering that gives away clues to their passwords. Don't follow the lead shown in this video!

Standard server security measures deployed across campus
UAB IT has been working with distributed IT professionals in departments and schools to help minimize risks to UAB's information assets. Because UAB operates in a decentralized server environment, UAB IT has implemented standard server patch management software across campus to mitigate security risks. The project is part of a larger cyber security effort across the University of Alabama system. Learn more here.
SharePoint upgrade under way
The UAB IT SharePoint team has begun the design phase for migration of UAB's SharePoint sites to SharePoint 2013, which offers a more intuitive and customer-friendly version of the software. Installation of the core system will begin in December, with site conversions beginning in spring 2016. Setup and testing for the converted sites will take place through next fall. The SharePoint team will contact individual site owners with their site's schedule in coming weeks.

Vulnerability found in Adobe Flash Player
A vulnerability was found in Adobe Flash Player. Find more details and determine if you have the updated version here.
UNLIMITED EMAIL IS COMING: Unlimited email storage will be a new feature when UAB IT upgrades its email system for campus faculty and staff. When the upgrade is complete, it will have many new features, including unlimited email for users.
ENTERPRISE SOFTWARE: UAB IT has a library of software available at no cost or at a discount. Access the software library here.

EXPONENTIAL CHANGE: If you take 30 linear steps, you walk across the room. If you take 30 exponential steps, you walk to the moon. We live in a time of exponential change in information technology.
UAB IT has debuted a cloud storage service for campus faculty and staff. OneDrive

Each UAB faculty and staff member can now sign up for a Microsoft OneDrive account, which provides 1TB of cloud storage and allow file sharing. Individual file size limits are 2GB. Microsoft plans to add unlimited storage and increase file size limits to 10GB in early 2016.

Faculty and staff can also use Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the cloud, as well as download those programs to their computers. Faculty and staff should consult with their department or school's IT support before installing Office 365 on campus computers, since a volume license for Microsoft Office is available for campus.

Photos, videos, spreadsheets and other work documents can be stored in OneDrive accounts, and users can also create, edit and share Microsoft documents within their accounts. Users can access files on any device, including PCs, Macs, tablets and mobile phones.

UAB does not permit storage of sensitive data in the cloud. For guidance, refer to:

Sunday, 01 November 2015 15:04

UAB IT 100-day letter from Dr. Curt Carver

October 26, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to report to the UAB leadership and community on my first 100 days as your vice president for information technology and chief information officer. This initial phase has been productive, exciting and challenging. As we work together toward the future, I want to take this opportunity to share some of the things I have had the privilege to be a part of and provide some insight into what lies ahead.

Listening intently

In my first 100 days, I have tried to learn as much as I can about UAB by listening to you and our customers. The crowdsourcing site SPARK is thriving, with 82 ideas and 500 comments submitted, and more than 2,500 votes cast.

More than 800 meetings in the first 100 days created additional opportunities to listen intently and try to understand the UAB environment. Three town hall meetings have proven invaluable to understanding the depth and complexity of our operations. My interactions with the staff have confirmed that we have superb employees dedicated to providing outstanding services to our customers.

I’ve challenged UAB IT to be an agent of innovation and change. You’ve challenged IT with suggestions as to how we can improve our operations. The community and its leaders have been eager to assist as we have addressed difficult issues and made a difference at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. We still have so much to innovate during a time of great change, but I am confident that our people — our greatest strength — are up to the challenge.

In addition to listening internally, I have reached out to the technology community of Birmingham. I have shared our vision of a thriving technology ecosystem between UAB and the Birmingham and greater Alabama area in which we can educate and inspire the next generation of leaders for our community, our state and our nation.

We need an ecosystem where we attract and retain IT talent by intentionally partnering to build deep and enduring relationships among the different constituent groups in the Birmingham area. I have given presentations at InfraGard, TechBirmingham, TechJunction, and Innovation Depot, and I have joined the advisory boards of TechBridge and TechJunction to promote this vision. I have met with the technology leaders of the State of Alabama, the University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Huntsville, Auburn University, Maxwell Air Force Base, and the private sector to seek opportunities for the benefit of our communities and our state. These engagements have provided additional insight into areas of mutual interest and the demonstrated impact we are having across Alabama and beyond.

One of the important aspects of my role as vice president is to share our story with numerous groups and individuals to communicate the many ways UAB enriches the lives or our various constituencies and to strengthen strategic partnerships, while at the same time listening to their valuable feedback.

Acting intentionally

While we have been listening intently, we have been acting intentionally during these first 100 days, and we have accomplished much. The introduction of two-factor authentication, stronger passwords with a one-year renewal, deployment of a much stronger identity management system, and a community of practice around asset management and patch management have significantly strengthened our security posture.

We have quadrupled the processing power of our research computing infrastructure; won a National Science Foundation grant to build a separate research network and associated science “demilitarized zone” that will run 10 times faster than the current network; and won an Alabama Innovation Fund grant for three petabytes of high-speed research storage.

We are introducing unlimited storage for faculty and staff through both Office 365 and Box so that they can focus on changing the world — not how to manage their storage of data. We have doubled the size of the UAB Dropbox for everyone, worked to accelerate contract review, deployed a digital signage solution, strengthened our support for the Campaign for UAB, and increased our engagement with distributed IT professionals to help design our new financial and service systems.

Behind the scenes, we have enhanced the UAB network through equipment upgrades and core network redundancy. I have undoubtedly missed several accomplishments, and for that I apologize. I am very proud of what we have accomplished, and I look forward to the exciting tasks we have at hand.

Moving at the speed of trust
In the short term, we have a number of planned enhancements that will continue to transform student success, research and education at UAB. Our university has world-class staff, faculty and researchers, and they deserve world-class IT. Our goal is to enhance the productivity of staff, faculty and researchers in more than 100 ways during the first year of my tenure. Unlimited email is coming soon. There is excitement in the air as we work together to explore the projects we can implement during this first year to make your lives better. By partnering with our customers to build solutions, we can be greater than the sum of our parts.

Eileen and I would like to thank the entire UAB community for your warm welcome and the many ways you have helped us to get to know you, your work, and this fine educational institution and community. It is an honor and a humbling experience for me to serve UAB as the vice president for information technology and chief information officer, and I am looking forward to working with all of you in the months and years to come.

Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D.
Vice President and Chief Information Officer

ideas in SPARK
meetings in three months
"UAB IT partnered with the Faculty Senate to enable us to crowdsource ideas from faculty about what they would like us to focus on in the coming year. Their responsiveness and 'can do' approach to addressing the needs of faculty has been a breath of fresh air."
Dr. Alecia K. Gross, chairwoman of the UAB Faculty Senate, on a SPARK campaign created by UAB IT
in grants and institutional pledges for research computing
"This has been a monumental change to our operations, which has allowed us to provide superior donor relations and transparency."
Randy Kinder, director of Annual Giving, on a telephone technology tweak that helped boost donations to the Campaign for UAB

UAB users have been hit in the past day with emails containing malicious attachments that could encrypt users' files, enabling attackers to hold the files for ransom.

The recent emails contain unzipped Word document attachments that pretend to be a job applicant's resume or CV. The image below is similar to what users have received:


When the user opens the attachment, a particularly nasty malware called CryptoLocker is released onto the user's computer.

CryptoLMalocker malware holds the user's machine hostage by encrypting all of the user's files, making them inaccessible without the required passkey.

The attacker offers the victim the passkey for a fee of a few hundred dollars, often paid by entering a prepaid credit card number the victim must purchase.

There is no way to simply remove the malware. The user must either pay the ransom (which does not always work) OR if they keep consistent backups, rebuild the machine and load the backup onto it.

Anyone who receives such an email is urged to report it to AskIT.

Follow these tips to avoid phishing and other scam emails:

  • Don't open attachments from strangers or even friends if you aren't expecting them. The attachment could contain a virus that can infect your computer.
  • Do NOT click links in messages. Type a trusted web address in your browser or Google for the web site if you don't know the address.
  • When there is a link in an email, do the "hover test" and hover your mouse over the link to see where it is actually redirecting you.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Always 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 critical security vulnerability has been identified in versions of Adobe Flash Player, and UAB users are urged to update it on their computer systems. flash player

Adobe has released an emergency update to address the issue. The vulnerabilities could allow a hacker to take control of a system.

Users can verify that they have the latest version of Flash Player by visiting the website:
A new interactive Administrative Systems page, which many UAB staff and students use to access systems and applications across campus, is now live. 

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.