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.
Adobe Acrobat Pro X will reach “End of Core Support" on Nov. 15, 2015.

"End of core support" means that Adobe will no longer provide patches for this version, and any exploits discovered will not be corrected. Since Adobe will not support this version after November, it will become a security risk.

UAB IT strongly encourages users to upgrade to a newer version of Adobe Acrobat. 

Adobe subscriptions are available under the IT Software Library website under Adobe Software. You may also submit a request to AskIT directly from this website.
A new phishing email is hitting UAB users' inboxes, purporting to be from "Staff Portal." 

phishing staffportal
Users should not click the link in the email. The URL has been blocked from campus, but the login page is a replica of a UAB page with university branding. Phishing emails are usually an attempt to gain access to steal your personal or financial information.

phishing fakelogin

If you receive an email with a hidden link like “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. 

You should only enter your UAB credentials at UAB .edu web sites.

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.
SignageScreens copy

Digital signage offers a dynamic, vibrant and even interactive way to deliver targeted messages to campus audiences.

UAB IT now provides campus departments with a comprehensive digital signage solution. All customers have to do is manage their message.

Campus customers can order one or multiple signs, and UAB IT will handle the purchase and installation of the signs as well as host the content management platform. Departments will manage their own signage content, which can range from slideshows, video, web pages, RSS feeds, weather and more.

Digital signs can be used to publicize campus or department events, share information, promote recognition and provide directions.

Integration with campus-wide emergency management alerts is coming soon to UAB IT’s digital signage solution.
Office2016
Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac is licensed for faculty and staff to install on UAB-owned machines at no cost.

The software can be downloaded from the IT Software Library

Microsoft Office 2016 for Mac comes with new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and adds OneNote.

UAB IT highly recommends users look at the Office 2016 for Mac Quick Start Guides.

Before installation:
  • Please make sure your Mac has all of its operating system updates installed.
  • Check to make sure the needed hard drive space is available (2.5GB for download and 5.6 after install) of approximately 8.2GB.
  • Close all Office applications before beginning the installation.
It is recommended that users uninstall Office 2011 by following these steps on the Microsoft site.

Installation:
  • Download the linked .ISO file.
  • Open the ISO and launch the package.
  • Follow the prompts in the Office installer package, taking the defaults.
  • Run Microsoft Office updates.
The new versions of the Microsoft Office 2016 applications will be located in the root of applications and not in an Office folder as they are in Microsoft Office 2011.

Current Office 2016 Preview users do not have to uninstall the preview version before installing the release version.
ScamAlertUAB students continue to be targets of phone scammers who impersonate law enforcement officers or IRS representatives.

Students at universities across the country have been targets of similar scams, in which malicious callers make threats about alleged debt. 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.

 According to UAB IT’s Information Security division, students need to know:
  • No law enforcement body will call them and threaten to arrest them over the phone.
  • 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.
  • UAB has not suffered a breach that resulted in this scam.

More information about IRS scams is available here.

Tips:
  • 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.
A new phishing email purporting to be from AskIT is targeting UAB faculty, staff and students as well as UAB Medical Center staff. 

UAB IT and HSIS are taking steps to block this phishing attempt, but students, faculty and staff should be on alert.

The email has forged the "from" address as AskIT. A sample of the latest phishing email is below.

Phishingattempt askit

Phishingattempt askitIf you receive an email with a hidden link like “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. 

You should only enter your UAB credentials at UAB .edu web sites.

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.
The UAB IT organization is being restructured into three divisions as part of CIO Curt Carver's plan to transform UAB IT into a world-class organization. Search committees have been formed and recruitment is ongoing for three key leadership positions:

  • Chief Information Security Officer 
  • Chief Technology Officer
  • Deputy Chief Information Officer
More information about these positions can be found on the UAB Executive Search web site.
computerVirus
UAB IT has new recommendations for antivirus software for both home use by faculty, staff and students and for campus users.

Microsoft Forefront is no longer supported by Microsoft, which means there will be no new updates to guard against new viruses.

UAB IT recommends that faculty, staff and students use Microsoft Security Essentials on their home machines that have Windows 7 and Vista. Machines using Windows 8 or higher have Windows Defender built in.

Mac users should continue to use Sophos anti-virus, which faculty, staff and students can download for free through UAB IT.

Learn more about antivirus software here.
Microsoft is scheduled to release Windows 10 on July 29, 2015. Many UAB employees will want to upgrade to the new version, or will be receiving new systems with Windows 10 already installed.

While Windows 10 will add many new features, Windows 10 does not work with many applications at UAB. Most software developers have not released compatibility updates or new versions of their software for Windows 10, and many software incompatibilities are expected.

UAB IT recommendations and guidance:
Because of these issues, UAB IT recommends that Windows 10 not be installed at this time. If Windows 10 is required and is used on a touch-enabled device, UAB IT recommends you use Windows 8 "classic view."
  • UAB IT will offer only limited support for Windows 10.
  • New systems that are ordered from Dell may included Windows 10 by default in the near future, but departments/schools should consider re-imaging those decices using an approved Windows 7 image prior to deployment.
  • Upgrade support for special business cases and exceptions will be evaluated as needed.
  • Windows 7 should remain the primary operating system on university-owned computers until the issues with Windows 10 are resolved.
  • We foresee retiring Windows 7 within three years and moving to Windows 10 as the primary operating system on university-owned computers.

Compatibility Review

Results of our compatibility review of Windows 10 and UAB IT services.

Service Compatible with UAB IT services? Notes
Adobe Creative Suite No All Adobe Creative Suite products are not currently compatible with Windows 10. During installation, the applications stalls and must be ended manually.
Internet Explorer 11 Yes Internet Explorer (IE) 11 is one of two browsers available on Windows 10. The other is the new Edge browser.
Microsoft Office 2013 Yes No published issues.
Banner No Possible use of IE 11 in enterprise mode — no guidance from Banner or Microsoft.
Oracle No On Microsoft compatibility list. This does not include any UAB applications in the Oracle system.
Software Center (SCCM) No Software Center and other software management tools do not successfully install on Windows 10. (They will be available on the next update from Microsoft.)

UAB IT will continue to test the subsequent releases of Windows 10 with the various services and most frequently used software titles. Once we have confirmed that Windows 10 is compatible with most, if not all, services and software that the product is ready for mainstream distribution, this section will be updated with information on how to obtain the new operating system.

If your school or department IT professionals are interested and available to participate in any evaluation and testing related to Windows 10, please contact Sterling Griffin.

Anticipated hardware requirements
Recommended minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10:
  • Processor: 1.5 Ghz (gigahertz) dual core or better
  • RAM: 8 GB (gigabytes) or more
  • Free hard disk space: 30 GB or more
  • Graphics card: Microsoft Direct X 9 graphics deveice with WDDM driver or better
Adobe FormsCentral is retiring July 28, but UAB IT can help in the transition. UAB IT offers Adobe Acrobat for download at a discount.

After July 28, users of Adobe FormsCentral will no longer be able to create new forms or collect responses using FormsCentral. Adobe recommends that users immediately export responses to a file type of your choice — and convert your FormsCentral forms to PDFs, if desired. You will NOT be able to do so once FormsCentral expires.

Adobe Acrobat can be used to collect form data automatically and compile it in a table format. Data can be exported to a spreadsheet for further analysis or to create charts for summary reports.

Adobe Acrobat is offered through UAB IT. Learn more here.

To learn more about the retirement of Adobe FormsCentral, please read the Forms Central FAQ or Adobe Forums.
Microsoft on Monday released a critical patch outside of its normal patching cycle. 

The update fixes a vulnerability in Windows that could allow an attacker to execute code on a system if they can convince the user to open a specially crafted document, or have them visit an untrusted webpage that contains embedded OpenType fonts. 

The update, which requires a system reboot, was released to all UAB IT Desktop-supported machines at 4 p.m. Monday. Users have 72 hours to let the patch install and reboot the system. Users should get a notification bubble pop up at the system tray. After 72 hours, if a user has not allowed the patch to install, it will install automatically and the system will be forced to reboot.

UAB IT urges users to find an opportune time to let the patch install and allow the reboot occur to help protect UAB systems and information.
Excellence, service, security and shared governance are among the hallmarks of a new set of strategic imperatives UAB IT is committed to meeting, Vice President for Information Technology and CIO Curt Carver said.

The strategic imperatives enhance Carver’s vision for UAB IT.

“My vision for UAB IT is a world-class IT organization that effectively balances cost efficiency, agility and innovation,” he said. “Our relationships with our customers, business partners and vendors are long-term relationships that allow us to move at the speed of trust. This vision does not depend on one person but instead on a dedicated team where everyone is an agent of innovation and aligned to support the University of Alabama at Birmingham.”

The department’s strategic imperatives include:
  • Create a secure computing environment for all UAB members through appropriate policy, training and technology.
  • Build an IT shared governance structure with particular focus on partnership with the Health System.
  • Create a world-class IT organization so that if our customers could choose any provider, they would choose UAB IT.
  • Generate business value though reduced costs, process innovation or revenue generation.
  • Innovate UAB through partnerships with institutional business owners, with a focus on academic and research operations.
  • Foster an institutional data-driven decision-making culture that allows UAB to make informed and optimal decisions.
  • Enhance the community of information technology excellence for the economic, social and cultural benefit of Birmingham and beyond. 
At the same time, UAB IT is striving to be more transparent in its interaction with UAB customers and IT professionals across campus. The SPARK initiative invites faculty, staff and students to share their technology ideas and vote on the ideas of others. The reThink Project will change how UAB IT interacts with its customers, and IT professionals in other departments and schools will be invited to participate in the project. And the UAB IT Financial Transparency and Accountability Project will give IT customers a better understanding of their IT costs.