StarWars

To celebrate a year of accomplishments and look forward to new challenges, staff members attended a special advance showing of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" as a team Thursday night, with some special guests in attendance.

Sensing that a department filled with technology experts was the perfect audience for the latest "Star Wars" installment, UAB IT rented a theater for the event and invited not only employees but their family and friends as well as UAB leadership and mascot Blaze, who wore his Jedi robes for the occasion.

"You are indeed a force awakened," Vice President and CIO Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. told staff members and their guests. "What you have done this year is remarkable. UAB IT does not exist in a vacuum, and everything that we do is in support of UAB's mission. We're here to empower students, faculty and staff. This is an opportunity to thank our constituents, our staff and the family members who support our staff members who work long hours to help make UAB great." 

UAB IT has had a year filled with accomplishments to help better the UAB community, from a small technology tweak that helped increase donations for the university's Annual Giving campaign to new cloud storage options. In addition, UAB IT is building a stronger research computer network that is 10 times faster and has introduced more robust password security with a longer lifespan for passwords.

For details on some of UAB IT's projects over the past several months, look at our monthly IT Update newsletters and Carver's 100-day letter to campus. And for a more lighthearted look at the department's accomplishments, our holiday greeting video showcases the "12 Days of the Holidays with UAB IT."

Spoiler alert: The movie is great.
An email upgrade being rolled out for UAB faculty and staff this week will support much larger mailbox sizes.

Faculty and staff members will be transitioned to the new email system gradually over the coming weeks.

In addition to the larger email storage space, users will see a new interface when logging into email accounts through a web browser. The look and feel will be closely aligned to what students see in their Office 365 email accounts.

In the new interface, users should note that the Calendar, People (previously called “Contacts”) and Tasks will be in the upper right-hand side of the interface, rather than the lower left-hand side.

OWA2013 mailboxClick image for larger view.
Users will also see a new login page for the Outlook Web App.

OWA2013 loginClick image for larger view.

It will take several weeks to transition all faculty and staff email accounts to the new system. Users should not see any changes to their email when using the Outlook application, other than the increased storage space.

Among the new features of the Outlook Web App:

·      Inline composing, which allows users to quickly compose and reply to emails without popping out a new window

·      Forgotten attachment reminder, which tries to detect whether you intended to include an attachment (by interpreting an email you typed) and pops up a reminder if you click send without including the attachment. This feature works with recent browsers such as Internet Explorer 9 and above.

·      The Outlook Web App comes with three apps installed: Bing Maps, which adds a Bing tab with a quick link to a map if an e-mail message contains a street address; Action Items, which creates a suggested Task for the user to review if an email suggests a possible action; and Suggested Meetings, which suggests an appointment be added to the user’s calendar if an email has an offer to meet.

·      Email actions allow users to hover the mouse over an email they want to delete and see new icons to the right-hand side of the email: delete and flag. This makes it easier to delete emails without having to select them first.

UAB IT will be rolling out Internet Explorer 11 to its Desktop-supported customers beginning Wednesday. Microsoft will no longer be supporting earlier versions of IE beginning in January, making those earlier versions of the browser a security risk.

IE11 works for all of UAB’s enterprise systems except for IRAP, the Integrated Research Administration Portal. IRAP users can visit uab.edu/IRAP to see how best to access the system.
Ellis ShawnShawn Ellis has joined UAB IT as associate vice president and chief technology officer. 

Ellis has a broad background in information technology, with a career spanning 20 years in industries including higher education, finance, defense, and space and scientific instrumentation.  For the past eight years, Ellis has held several executive technology leadership positions at the University of Georgia, where he has most recently been interim associate chief information officer. 

“Shawn brings a broad range of experience that will help us serve the university community’s technology needs and enable world-class performance at UAB,” said Dr. Curt Carver, vice president and CIO.  

“I would like to thank the members of the search committee for their hard work identifying excellent candidates for the position,” Carver said. 

The committee was chaired by Dr. Iwan Alexander, dean of the School of Engineering.  Members included Alecia Jones (Human Resources), Stephanie Mullins (Financial Affairs), Michelle Hussey (University Advancement), Patricia Higginbottom (Lister Hill Library), Tommy Foley (Engineering), Don Fast (HSIS), Dr. Purushotham Bangalore (Computer Science), and UAB IT's Bob Cloud and Phillip Borden.

Ellis holds a Bachelor of Science in computer information systems from Nova Southeastern University and a Master of Business Administration from Georgia College and State University. 
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 effort.toys 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.
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.
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).