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 the Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel and PowerPoint in the cloud, as well as download those programs to their computers. The Office products are primarily made available for installation on the user’s personal/home system, and faculty/staff should consult with their department or school's IT support before installing any Office 365 products on their UAB system. Office products for installation on UAB systems should be downloaded from UAB IT’s software library.

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:

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:

cryptolocker

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: https://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/.
AdminSysScreenshot
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.
To help protect students, faculty and staff, access to personal information in the Electronic Phonebook at uab.edu/directory is now password-protected. Key Keyboard

All faculty, staff and students will need to log in with a BlazerID to search or access that directory information for people. Information for units and entities will not require a login.

The change was made to protect members of the UAB community from harrassment and scamming. Scammers often use publicly available information — including information from directories and social media accounts — to try to defraud people.

It is important to note that there has been no breach of private information at UAB.

UAB IT also recommends that students, faculty and staff review the privacy settings on their social media accounts. Using complex passwords for all accounts, along with dual-factor authentication when possible, can also help protect your personal information.

Any member of the UAB community who receives a scam phone call should report it to UAB Police, 205-934-4434, and UAB Information Technology at AskIT@uab.edu.
cellphone imageforstory

UAB students — and even their parents — continue to be targets of phone scammers who impersonate law enforcement officers or IRS representatives.

Similar scams — in which malicious callers make threats about alleged debt — have targeted students at universities around the country. Although the phone scammers often know personal details about students — such as their majors — students should know there has been no breach of protected information at UAB. Such information is often publicly available in student directories or social media. The attackers can spoof a police station phone number or a government number so the call will look like it is coming from such an office.

More information about IRS scams is available here.

Tips if you receive one of these calls:
  • Do NOT provide Social Security numbers, birth dates or any other personal information.
  • Ask to call the “officer” or "IRS representative" back, take down their number and call the number back.
  • Ask them to meet you at the police station in question, if they claim to be from a police department.
  • When in doubt, hang up and call the UAB Police Department at 205-934-4434.

Tips for protecting your identity on social media:

  • Set your privacy settings so that your information and your posts are only viewable by those you trust.
  • Only accept friend or connection request from those you know and trust and those you are comfortable with sharing information. For example, posting that you and your family are on vacation on your social media page lets potential criminals know that no one is at your residence. This could make you a candidate for theft. (You can also un-friend or un-connect with those you do not trust.)
  • Consider which pieces of your sensitive information, such as your birth date, personal email address, home address, current employer, high school, etc., you should and shouldn't display. Identity thieves can piece together your information in order to take over your identity.
  • For professional sites, such as LinkedIn, use a different email address than the one used for social media s ites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. This way, peopel you are linked to professionally can't find you on social media sites via your email.
Microsoft Office 2016 for PCs is now available for download for faculty and staff.

Office 2016 is available from the UAB IT software site.

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

AdminSysScreenshot
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 AskIT@uab.edu; opening a ticket online at www.uab.edu/askit; 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.
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.
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).
UAB is a member of the eduroam® WiFi network. Eduroam

eduroam® provides a free WiFi service that allows UAB users to log in to WiFi at participating universities with their BlazerIDs. Representatives of participating eduroam universities can also log on to the WiFi network at UAB with credentials from their institutions. Click here to learn more about eduroam and find out participating institutions.

With eduroam’s network, user credentials are not revealed to the institution at which a user joins but instead are only revealed to their home institution, providing an extra measure of security for visiting users.

eduroam (education roaming) is a secure, world-wide roaming access service developed for the international research and education community.

View a map of participating institutions.

Connection guides for various devices:

Max OSX

Apple iOS

Windows 7

Android

Windows 10


UAB is revising its password/passphrase policy to ensure better security for campus assets.

Under the new policy that is being phased in beginning Sept. 15, passwords/passphrases will need to be 15 characters, but the passwords will expire after one year.

Implementation of the policy will be phased in; while users can change their passwords at any time at BlazerID Central, they will NOT be required to change their passwords to 15 characters until their current password expires. Enforcement of the new requirements and expiration will begin on the first password change event after the policy goes into effect on Sept. 15.

Fifteen-character passwords are much harder to crack than eight-character passwords, making them more secure than UAB’s current standard. Once a password/passphrase expires, a user will never be able to reuse it. 

A strong passphrase:

  • Is a series of words that create a phrase.
  • Does not contain common phrases found in literature or music. You can choose a sentence or phrase that is familiar to you, but use the first letter of every word as a mnemonic device.
  • Does not contain words found in the dictionary. You can replace certain letters in words with numbers, such as 1 for an I or L.
  • Does not contain your user name, real name or company name.

UAB’s passphrases must contain three of the following four characters: an uppercase letter, a lowercase letter, a number and a special symbol.

When users log into BlazerID Central to change their passwords, they will automatically be prompted to enroll a phone number in the Identity feature, which allows users to more easily reset a BlazerID password/passphrase without having to contact AskIT.

UAB IT is also actively pursuing a contract for a password manager for faculty, staff and students. 



Researcher awards

UAB IT is building the largest academic compute cluster in Alabama and a powerhouse network that will be the foundation for groundbreaking research at the university.

A series of grants and other financial pledges will strengthen the current network that supports researchers at UAB, enabling better collaboration and innovation.

UAB has received $2 million in funding from several entities in recent weeks:

  • Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer Curt Carver, working in partnership with numerous departments, received a $500,000 grant from the Alabama Innovation Fund for a three petabyte research storage array.
  • UAB IT received $500,000 from the university’s Mission Support Fund, the largest grant to date from that fund, for research computing equipment.
  • Associate Professor Puri Bangalore, director of the Collaborative Computing Laboratory, received a $500,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to create a ScienceDMZ and separate research network that will allow UAB researchers to more easily and quickly connect with each other and other institutions.
  • Dr. Richard Marchese and the Office of Research and Economic Development have pledged $500,000 in ongoing operating funds for research computing.

HPC septembernewsletter“Advancing research and discovery is a fundamental pillar of our institutional mission. This enterprise-wide strategic investment in our research computing infrastructure is a necessary step to providing our researchers with a competitive edge and propelling UAB forward as one of the most dynamic and productive research universities of the 21st century,” President Ray L. Watts said.

Considered together, these enhancements will quadruple UAB’s current computing capability and storage and lead to a more than tenfold increase in networking speeds. Increased computational power adds capacity and will enhance the performance of UAB’s scientific modeling, imaging, genetic and statistical workloads. The first purchase under the new funding is being installed this summer, a new cluster that will be integrated into the existing research computing system, where it will complement existing storage and OpenStack on-premises cloud computing resources.

The UAB research committee, led by Dean Iwan Alexander, is considering even more ambitious capabilities as a component of a research computing strategic plan so as to empower UAB researchers. UAB’s motto of “knowledge that will change your world” is increasingly being created at UAB by UAB researchers.  

UAB Chief Information Officer and Vice President for Information Technology Dr. Curt Carver has delivered a video and presentation detailing UAB IT's plans for strategic technology improvements.

"UAB IT is listening intently to campus, so that we can act intentionally to meet the technology needs of faculty, staff and students," Carver said.



welcomeback students3

Whether you are a new or returning student at UAB, you may have questions about technology on campus.

Here are some guides to get you started:

UAB IT Quicklinks (printable version)

How to get your computer ready for UAB (printable version)

Antivirus software

And here are some security tips:

Keeping your password secure

Protect yourself from phone scams
UAB faculty members have a new online tool to help them manage their professional information — a place to document grants, publications, professional activities and teaching.  The Faculty Profiles system is currently being rolled out across the UAB campus.

The tool automatically downloads publications from eight major indexing sources into each individual profile. Grants data is downloaded from IRAP.  Publications that are not captured automatically or grants that are not included in IRAP can easily be manually entered. Two additional features document teaching activities (drawn from Banner, the student system) and other professional activities, as selected by each faculty member. Altogether, the Profile provides each faculty member with a single system in which to manage their accomplishments.

Faculty Profiles is also designed to foster cross-disciplinary collaborations, while standardizing reporting of faculty activities. The tool creates a profile page for each faculty member, viewable by other UAB faculty members. No confidential information is posted to the profile.

“This is a wonderful tool that centralizes our accomplishments,” said Dr. Midge Ray, associate professor of Health Services Administration, School of Health Professions and faculty coordinator for the UAB Faculty Profiles tool.

“The new Faculty Profiles system is a great tool for compiling a list of publications for our quarterly department faculty meeting, our annual report and our faculty pages for the departmental web site,” said Dr. Cynthia Owsley, the Nathan E. Miles Chair of Ophthalmology and Vice Chair for Research Administration, UAB.

Faculty in Health Professions, Engineering, Optometry and the Libraries have been trained on the tool, and it is currently being rolled out to the Schools of Dentistry and Medicine and College of Arts and Science. The School of Education is on target for training in fall 2015, Ray said.

The development and implementation of Faculty Profiles, a Symplectic Elements software, has been overseen by the Faculty Activities Committee, which includes representatives from all of the schools and the college and libraries.