Having a tech problem on campus? Now you can report it right from your phone.

The UAB mobile app’s IT tile is upgraded to give you easy access to report a technology problem or a campus WiFi problem. And if you are reporting a WiFi issue, your phone will be able to pinpoint for our technicians where you are on campus, so we can help more quickly.

The IT tile also has easy links to IT news, the TechConnect store, email setup help, security tips, 2-factor authentication information, cloud storage information and quicklinks for technology help.

Coming soon to the app, we will have even more updates — including the ability for you to move tiles around and delete those you don’t need. Get the app here.


UAB IT is working to develop chatbots — automated tools that can answer questions — for the UAB mobile app and Canvas. A chatbot will help give you personalized answers to your most frequently asked questions — and get you back to work or school quickly.
In the app, it will be able to give you personalized answers. In Canvas, faculty will be able to provide their own questions so that students can "chat" and quickly get automated answers.

Click the video above to learn more about the chatbot concept.

OneDrive is now allowing you to go back in time. Faculty, staff and students using OneDrive at UAB will now be able to recover any file changes on documents stored in the OneDrive cloud to any point in the past 30 days. Files Restore is a complete self-service recovery solution that allows administrators and users to restore files from any point in time during the last 30 days. If you suspect your files have been compromised, you can investigate file changes and go back in time to any second in the last 30 days. To use File Restore, all you needs to do is choose “Settings” and then “Restore OneDrive.” You will be presented with a histogram showing file activity over the last 30 days with an intuitive slider to “rewind” those changes. You can then easily select the file or files to restore from that point in time. You will then be prompted with a date range as well as the number of files to restore. The user chooses to restore and the files are then restored back into the users OneDrive. Files Restore for OneDrive can save time and stress when file loss occurs, putting you in control. You will not have to download or install any additional software. File Restore is currently live an available from within OneDrive in Office 365.

To learn more about OneDrive file restore, click here.

Ten UAB classrooms will receive updated technology over spring break this year.

The upgrades are part of a plan to upgrade 20 classrooms per year over the next three years. Led by faculty members and the Center for Teaching and Learning, the improvements will give faculty members a more consistent technology experience. Updated technology includes remote management, so problems can be resolved quickly by UAB IT technicians.

UAB IT is also working on plans to upgrade technology in more classrooms over the next fiscal year.
AcceptableUseComputerNetworkResources

Faculty, staff and students can follow some common sense guidelines to avoid unacceptable uses of University technology tools.

UAB's revised Acceptable Use policy, published in late 2017, gives clear guidance on how faculty, staff and students should use University computers, mobile devices and other technology tools.

The Acceptable Use policy applies to all users of UAB’s computing resources and is intended to prohibit certain unacceptable uses of computers, mobile devices and network resources and facilities, while educating users about their individual responsibilities.

The revised policy gives clearer guidance and expectations to UAB students, faculty and staff regarding their use of University computing resources.

Tax season is the perfect time for scammers to try to take advantage of you, information security professionals with UAB IT warn.

According to the IRS, sophisticated phone scams targeting taxpayers, including recent immigrants, have been making the rounds across the United States. Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

Victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. Victims may be threatened with arrest, deportation or suspension of a business or driver’s license. In many cases, the caller becomes hostile and insulting. Victims may be told “they have a refund due” to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn’t answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

Limited English proficiency victims are often approached in their native language, threatened with deportation, police arrest and license revocation, among other things. IRS urges all taxpayers caution before paying unexpected tax bills. Note that the IRS doesn’t:

  • Call to demand immediate payment using a specific payment method such as a prepaid debit card, gift card or wire transfer. Generally, the IRS will first mail you a bill if you owe any taxes.
  • Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying.
  • Demand payment without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they say you owe.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone.

Please keep in mind that scammers will try to perform this attack via phishing emails. Please be aware and vigilant of these efforts. If you suspect that you have received or fallen victim to a tax-related scam, contact the IRS at Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration at 800-366-4484.

For additional information about this tax season’s scams, refer to this IRS web site.

UAB will soon have new ways to visualize data to help make more informed decisions for the university and its students.

The University of Alabama Board of Trustees last month approved the purchase of licenses for Tableau, a software that produces interactive data visualization for business intelligence.

UAB IT will launch a pilot rollout of the software to those on campus already using the tool.

“Initially, we will work with organizations already using it to expand their capabilities,” said Scott Sorenson, assistant vice president for data operations and business transformations.

One of the UAB’s IT strategic imperatives calls for fostering a institutional culture of data-driven decision making, and the Tableau software will help take that data and make it visual for those who are studying it.

“It takes mind-numbing spreadsheets and turns them into charts and graphs,” Sorenson said. “It has practical implications for student performance, donor engagement and space management, among other uses.”

The result empowers researchers, faculty, students and employees to do their work with greater efficiency — and we'll be taking that network to the community of IT entrepreneurs next. For researchers, the network includes a Science DMZ which separates research network traffic to create a faster pipeline for collaboration.

Watch the video to learn more about how we have co-authored these solutions, what we have done and what is planned in the future.

A new feature in UAB email that will alert you when you receive an email from outside UAB will launch on Saturday, Feb. 24.

The external sender alerts are intended to help you distinguish when an email comes from off campus, because phishing emails can often mimic the email addresses of your colleagues — making you think that someone at UAB is sending you a legitimate message.

In February, UAB IT will be launching a new feature in UAB email that will alert you when you receive an email from outside UAB. The external sender notice will look like the screenshot below.

ExternalSender screenshot

So if an outside vendor sends you a message or a student emails from his or her personal account, you will receive the notification at the top of the email. If you trust the source, you can disregard the notification.

But if someone trying to scam you fakes a UAB email address — as was the case with a widely-circulated phishing email purporting to be from UAB President Dr. Ray Watts last year — you will be warned to take caution opening any attachments or clicking any links included in the message.

If you do suspect you have received a phishing email, you can report it via PhishMe Reporter or forward it to phishing@uab.edu.

Learn more about phishing and how you can limit your risk of falling for a scam email here.
UAB IT has removed Duo 2-factor authentication from Canvas in response to students and faculty concerns about not having access to mobile devices when logging into Canvas for exams.

If you are interested in signing up for Duo 2-factor authentication you can do so without having to worry about not having access to take exams. 

Two-factor authentication is one of the most valuable tools to lower the risk of theft of your credentials and information — and an added benefit is that your BlazerID password doesn’t expire.

More than 1,700 students, faculty and staff have signed up for Duo 2-factor authentication since it went live in early January.
UAB Employee Sale Digital Signage
At TechConnect, UAB's on-campus tech store, we love our customers.

This month, for UAB faculty and staff, TechConnect will be offering $100 off any Dell computer through Feb. 28. Computers must be purchased in-store (online sales are not eligible). Mention the ad and show your employee ID for the discount.

TechConnect, located at the Hill Student Center, offers educational pricing on computers, tablets and accessories, as well as service for your devices.
Curt Carver Teaching3

When Vice President and Chief Information Officer Dr. Curt Carver hears concerns about technology from faculty members, he understands firsthand.

That’s because Carver is a faculty member himself — teaching five courses this semester, including two online information security courses at UAB.

“I believe that IT leadership should consume our own technology,” Carver said.

Under Carver’s leadership, UAB IT has made improvements for faculty and for students.

For example, faculty can now transfer grades from Canvas to BlazerNET with the push of a button, a process that had instructors manually entering each grade twice in the past.

The new method saves time.Instructors can also take advantage of automated and personalized alerts in Canvas to reach out to students who are performing poorly, to give them a helping hand, or congratulate students who are performing well.

For students and faculty, courses are now published in Canvas as soon as possible. Previously, courses were all published on the same day, which could tie up the system and cause slowness.

Carver began his teaching career at West Point, working his way up to full professor before, as he jokes, joining the “dark side” of administration.He encourages creativity among his students, assigning a group project in which they describe a scenario of an information security breach, using either a real or made-up company.

Teaching, he said, helps him understand the point of view of faculty and students and seek technology solutions for them and for UAB. "I can see their pain points," he said.
Emails containing credit card or Social Security numbers sent from external parties to @uab.edu addresses will soon result in a warning about unprotected messages that contain Restricted information.

Users who receive such warnings must notify the external party that the sending of Restricted information to UAB employees or students is prohibited. If such emails are part of a current business process, that process should be re-engineered to eliminate the use of Social Security numbers or credit card information.

UAB IT is already blocking the sending of emails from @uab.edu addresses if the message appears to contain a Social Security number or credit card number. Sending credit card or Social Security numbers via email can make you or others more vulnerable to identity theft — and is against UAB policy.

Social Security numbers and credit card numbers are classified as Restricted/PHI under the Data Classification Rule.
UAB has renewed the total academic headcount (TAH) license for MATLAB for 2018.

In addition to the renewal, UAB IT has upgraded the license to include the full suite of MATLAB tools available from the mathworks.

Individual users can upgrade/renew their licenses by using the help menu in the MATLAB client. Clients using the network license will automatically get the upgraded license.

More information about MATLAB can be found here.

UAB has also purchased access to MATLAB Academy self-paced training courses for all users. Currently, this includes:     
  • MATLAB Onramp (free for all customers)     
  • MATLAB Fundamentals - 21 hours of content   
  • MATLAB for Financial Applications - 21 hours     
  • MATLAB Programming Techniques - 14 hours     
  • MATLAB for Data Processing and Visualization - 7 hours     
  • Machine Learning with MATLAB - 14 hours of content on supervised and unsupervised methods for clustering, classification, regression and more
All users at UAB also automatically gain access to any other additional classes that UAB IT adds during the term of the license.

More information on the classes can be found here

MATLAB is a numerical computing language and is one of the important software offerings from the UAB IT software library with more than 2,000 users at UAB. It is used by a number of research labs from engineering to medicine. MATLAB at UAB is available on the Cheaha high performance computing cluster with support for GPU MATLAB applications and is supported by UAB IT Research Computing.
More than 1,700 members of the UAB community have signed up for Duo, a new tool that means they will never have to change their BlazerID passwords again.

That’s a 420 percent increase in the number of people using the Duo tool, providing greater security for their accounts and for all UAB data. If you sign up for Duo, your BlazerID password will never expire, unless your account is compromised.Using the Duo tool is simple — you just sign in to your account, then click a button on your mobile device to finish logging in to UAB systems. Duo can even remember computers you trust so you only have to log in with Duo once a month on trusted computers.

Duo is available for use with your BlazerID for all UAB students, faculty and staff. UAB Medicine employees will continue to use RSA 2-factor authentication for healthcare software that requires it, but can sign up for a Duo account for applications that use BlazerID.

Head to uab.edu/2factor to learn more about the Duo Security tool and sign up for an account. The 2-factor site will walk you through what 2-factor authentication is, why we are using it and how to use it for every device. And our quick-start guide will take you step-by-step through enrolling your devices.
Customers of UAB IT Desktop Services will receive Microsoft patch updates after 3 p.m. Monday, Jan. 22.

Because Desktop Services will push the update to computers automatically, customers can disregard a popup notice from Microsoft regarding critical security updates which looks similar to the message below.

CriticalSecurityUpdates

Desktop Services has already applied a first round of Microsoft updates earlier this month in response to the security vulnerabilities Meltdown and Spectre.

The new updates were released later to further reinforce computer security within the Microsoft Office Suite.
UPDATE: UAB IT and HSIS have put together resources for mitigating the threat of Meltdown and Spectre. Please refer to the resource page for more details.

UAB IT and HSIS are strongly urging IT professionals, staff, faculty and students to update browsers and system software to combat two serious computer flaws known as “Meltdown” and “Spectre” as soon as updates become available.

These vulnerabilities are caused by design defects in the hardware of most modern computing devices, including smartphones and tablets. This could permit unauthorized disclosure of sensitive or restricted data.

What to do

  • It is imperative that operating system updates are applied as soon they become available. UAB IT and HSIS will perform these updates for supported desktop, server and virtualization systems.
  • Browser updates, which are or will soon be released, should also be installed. UAB IT and HSIS will push these to supported desktops and servers. UAB IT will begin pushing Windows updates to Desktop customers at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 7.
  • Customers should reboot their systems as soon as they are notified that updates are available on their systems.
  • Vendors will also release firmware updates for affected computers. (Firmware is special software that controls computers and other digital devices.) This will require physical access to affected systems.
  • Users of systems that aren’t supported by UAB IT or HSIS should also apply these updates.
  • So far, no updates have been announced for smartphones or tablets. These will have to be installed when they become available.
It’s also important to install these updates on computers and other devices that aren’t managed by UAB IT or HSIS. If you need assistance, please consult IT personnel in your school or department or contact your help desk. You can reach campus AskIT at 996-5555 or askit@uab.edu and HSIS at 934-8888 or helpdesk@uabmc.edu.
The Qualtrics research suite, an online survey tool, is now available for free to UAB students, faculty and staff.

Previously, licenses were limited to schools who had subscribed to it.

Qualtrics is an online survey tool that allows you to build complex surveys that fulfill a variety of research needs. The tool can help you build and distribute surveys and analyze responses, all from one convenient online location.

“Qualtrics is an easy-to-use tool that gives us flexibility in creating our own powerful surveys and allows us the ability to analyze the results that showcase, for example, the extent to which our campus is involved in the community,” said Josh Carpenter, Ph.D., director of external affairs for UAB.

Extending the license for Qualtrics to all of campus is part of a larger effort to expand technology services under an “IT Bill of Rights” for students, faculty and staff. The IT Strategic Advisory Council recommended the expansion of the license and it was approved by Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D.

“Tools like Qualtrics make it easier for you to do your job,” Carver said. “Our job is to eliminate obstacles to your success and help empower you to change the world.”

In addition to the Qualtrics license change, Mathematica will continue to be available to all campus students, faculty and staff. The funding source will now be UAB IT.
Storage Migration Web

A campus-wide plan to move on-campus file storage in UABFile to the cloud will help departments save money and provide greater advantages in file collaboration and accessibility.

Beginning in February 2018, UAB IT will begin moving department file shares and individuals’ stored files in UABFile — also known as UDrive — to OneDrive, Microsoft’s cloud storage solution. By leveraging investment in a cloud solution, UAB is also eliminating the cost of department file shares.

OneDrive is already available for free to all students, faculty and staff.

To prepare for the move, faculty and staff are encouraged to clean up their files to allow a smoother transition. Refer to the data reduction page for information about finding and purging Restricted/PHI data.

“Moving file storage to the cloud will give faculty, staff and students greater flexibility in accessing data and collaborating across campus and beyond,” said Brian Rivers, chief information security officer. “But we need departments and individuals to assist us in this effort by cleaning up their current files and removing or redacting Restricted/PHI information.”

Departments and individuals should refer to the University’s Records Retention Policy and Records Retention Schedule for information about how long to keep data.

UAB IT’s information security team will scan files moving to the cloud to ensure that no data classified as Restricted/PHI — information such as Social Security numbers, credit card numbers or protected health information — is moved to OneDrive. At this time, Restricted/PHI data is not permitted to be stored in OneDrive.

Individuals who prefer to move their own files ahead of a scheduled migration can choose to do so using OneDrive or UAB Box. Please note that OneDrive is the preferred collaboration tool for students and faculty, because students do not have access to UAB Box.
Martinez graduation

Daniel Martinez was living in Florida, working in marketing but hoping to learn more about software development, when he heard about a unique grant-funded program that gives underemployed young people a chance to learn about coding.

So Martinez packed up everything and “drove all the way to Birmingham,” he said.

That gamble paid off when he graduated from the latest Innovate Birmingham class on Dec. 15 — and started work the following Monday as an entry-level developer with UAB IT.

“This program changed my life completely,” Martinez said.

Martinez is the fourth graduate of the Innovate Birmingham program to come to work with UAB IT. UAB, which helped secure the grant funding for Innovate Birmingham, has been a leading partner in the effort.

With a background in digital marketing with startup companies, Martinez was used to working with developers — so he knew that was his interest. And as a native of Colombia, he is accustomed to new places.

“It wasn’t hard to make the decision,” he said.

Bill Laughlin, director of UAB IT’s applications and consulting services team, said the new job will give Martinez greater opportunity to expand his skills.

“He comes to us with a broad but beginning spread of programming languages and component languages, so we are very excited to have him as a team member,” Laughlin said.