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Looking for a HOT computer sale? TechConnect has got you covered!

For UAB faculty and staff, TechConnect is offering $100 off any Dell computer. This offer is valid for TWO weeks, April 16-30. Computers must be purchased in store (online sales are not eligible).

TechConnect, located online and at the Hill Student Center, offers educational pricing on computers, tablets and accessories, as well as service for your devices. Have any questions? Call TechConnect today at 205-934-8333.

UAB students, faculty and staff now have the ability to access Zoom video conferencing, free of charge thanks to a partnership with the University of Alabama System.

Zoom provides cloud video conferencing, simple online meetings and group messaging, providing a complete conference room solution.

Zoom is also HIPAA compliant.

To access Zoom, begin by filling out a user account request form on the UA System web site. Within a day, you should receive an email with instructions to activate your account.

Please note, if you have already established a trial or free Zoom account, you will need to remove the application from your machine to use the UA System enterprise license.

Contact the Intercampus Interactive Telepresence System (IITS) for the University of Alabama System at 205-975-6854 or via email at iitscal@uasystem.ua.edu. The web site is located at iits.uasystem.ua.edu.

UAB IT Research Computing will host a deep learning workshop with NVIDA on Wednesday, April 11, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Edge of Chaos.

Please register here if you are interested in attending, as it helps in planning for the event.

The first session, from 9 to 11 a.m., will focus on “Deep Learning Demystified.” The lecture will introduce key terminology, use cases from various industries, how deep learning differs from previous algorithmic approaches, and how a deep neutral network gets trained, optimized and deployed.

The second session, from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m., is titled “Applied Deep Learning.” The lecture will cover how to apply deep learning to challenging problems, what types of problems benefit most from deep learning, what skills and knowledge is needed to use deep learning, and the characteristics of successful deep learning projects.

Labs will include "Applications of Deep Learning with Caffe, Theano and Torch" and "Image Classification with NVIDIA DIGITS."

The Edge of Chaos is located on the fourth floor of Lister Hill Library. Contact Thomas Anthony if you have any questions.

UAB IT is off to a running start with its sprints program.

Teams have finished one “sprint” and are preparing for more challenges. A "sprint" refers to a specific amount of time in which technology work must be completed and presented for review by the product owner. The UAB IT sprints program is designed to help create innovative solutions for campus needs. The sprints will give cross-discipline teams an opportunity to create a prototype for these solutions.

UAB IT has worked closely with the team behind the Solution Studio, an interdisciplinary team that connects clinicians and STEM students to solve patient care problems. UAB IT has developed a prototype for an online Solution Studios tool that will connect students and clinicians more quickly and efficiently. The prototype is set to be showcased later this month for university officials and community members.

Other sprint projects include UAB-specific skills for smart devices such as Amazon Alexa; a university calendar; and chatbots for faculty questions and other campus needs.

With space leased at Innovation Depot, the intent is to give teams a creative space to find solutions and to include team members beyond IT professionals.

Traveling this spring or summer? Here are some tips to protect your tech and your data while you are on the road or flying the friendly skies.

Protect your tech and data when traveling:

  • Travel only with the data that you need; look at reducing the amount of digital information that you take with you. This may mean leaving some of your devices at home, using temporary devices, removing personal data from your devices, or shifting your data to a secure cloud service. Authorities or criminals can't search what you don't have.
  • Most travelers will likely decide that inconvenience overrides risk and travel with electronic devices anyway. If this is the case, travelers should focus on protecting the information that they take with them. One of the best ways to do this is to use encryption. Make sure to fully encrypt your device and make a full backup of the data that you leave at home.
  • Before you arrive at the border, travelers should power off their devices. This is when the encryption services are at their strongest and will help resist a variety of high-tech attacks that may attempt to break your encryption. Travelers should not rely solely on biometric locks, which can be less secure than passwords.
  • Make sure to log out of browsers and apps that give you access to online content, and remove any saved login credentials (turn off cookies and autofill). This will prevent anyone from using your devices (without your knowledge) to access your private online information. You could also temporarily uninstall mobile apps and clear browser history so that it is not immediately apparent which online services you use.

Get your device travel ready:

  • Change your passwords or passphrases before you go. Consider using a password manager if you don't use one already.
  • Set up multifactor authentication for your accounts whenever possible for an additional layer of security.
  • Delete apps you no longer use.
  • Update any software, including antivirus protection, to make sure you are running the most secure version available.
  • Turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to avoid automatic connections.
  • Turn on "Find My [Device Name]" tracking and/or remote wiping options in case it is lost or stolen.
  • Charge your devices before you go.
  • Stay informed of TSA regulations and be sure to check with the State Department's website for any travel alerts or warnings concerning the specific countries you plan to visit, including any tech restrictions.
  • Clear your devices of any content that may be considered illegal or questionable in other countries, and verify whether the location you are traveling to has restrictions on encrypted digital content.
  • Don't overlook low-tech solutions:
    • Tape over the camera of your laptop or mobile device for privacy.
    • Use a privacy screen on your laptop to avoid people "shoulder surfing" for personal information.
    • Physically lock your devices and keep them on you whenever possible, or use a hotel safe.
    • Label all devices in case they get left behind!

Due to enhanced security measures in most countries, travelers with tech should be prepared for possible disruptions or additional wait times during the screening process. Here are some steps you can take to help secure your devices and your privacy.

Good to know:

  • While traveling within the United States, TSA agents at the gate are not allowed to confiscate your digital devices or demand your passwords.
  • Different rules apply to U.S. border patrol agents and agents in other countries. Federal border patrol agents have broad authority to search everyone entering the U.S. This includes looking through any electronic devices you have with you while you are traveling. They can seize your devices and make a copy for experts to examine offsite.

These guidelines are not foolproof, but security experts say every additional measure taken can help reduce the chances of cybertheft.

FindTimeMicrosoft has released a new tool designed to give Outlook users an easier way to schedule meetings.

FindTime allows colleagues to easily find time for a meeting without emailing back and forth before agreeing on a time.

FindTime is an Outlook add-in that allows you to quickly find time to meet with others by pinpointing times to meet via available free/busy data for your attendees as well as creating a poll where attendees can vote on the times you suggest, and even suggest new times themselves.

While FindTime organizers are required to be in Office 365, FindTime invites can be sent to anyone with an email address. Recipients do not have to have FindTime installed, nor do they have to be Office 365 users.

FindTime’s voting website can be accessed from any device.

For added security, FindTime encrypts personal information (such as your email address) in Azure. FindTime also encrypts information about the invites you create, such as the email subject, the attendees and the email body.

The app is available for Outlook 2013, Outlook 2016, Outlook on the Web and Outlook for Mac.


Learn more about FindTime and install it here.

Thomas Anthony, director of the Big Data Research and Analytics Laboratory and a member of the UAB IT research computing team, has co-authored the new book “Big Data and Visual Analytics,” with Sang Suh, chairman of computer science at Texas A&M Commerce.

The book provides readers with the benefits of the methods and technologies used in big data and visual analytics and examines the challenges of future research. Each chapter was authored or co-authored by scholars directly involved in research activities and covers such topics as virtual data machines, big data applications, high performance computing clusters and big data implementation techniques.

At UAB, Anthony works closely with researchers to facilitate data-driven research in studies such as Parkinson’s disease, autism and concussions, using the Cheaha high-performance computer, the fastest supercomputer in Alabama. A graduate of the UAB, he is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

More than 100 people attended a recent MATLAB seminar at the Edge of Chaos on campus to gain insight into data analytics and deep learning.

UAB IT’s research computing team hosted the seminar March 20, along with Mathworks.

The seminars were helpful in promoting the use of MATLAB and the graphics processing unit compute fabric at UAB, which owns the fastest supercomputer in Alabama.

Application engineers from Mathworks presented a morning session titled “Data Analytics with MATLAB” and focused on using Data Analytics to turn large volumes of complex data into actionable information that can help improve engineering design and decision-making processes.

The second session, “Demystifying deep learning: A practical approach in MATLAB,” focused on using deep learning to achieve state-of-the-art accuracy in many human like tasks such as naming objects in a scene or recognizing optimal paths in an environment.

The UAB mobile app is getting another upgrade that adds better functionality and new features to help you get what you need on campus.

Among the changes:

  • New ability to hide and rearrange tiles: Pick the tiles you need to see most by moving them around or hiding them altogether. Just click the “Arrange” button at the bottom of the app to rearrange or delete tiles.
  • New UAB Now tile: This tile will link you to the UAB alumni app, with personalized news and events, the ability to find nearby Blazers and key career introductions.
  • New behind-the-scenes roles: These roles will allow more specific content geared toward your role on campus — student, faculty, staff or guest.
  • New UAB stickers tile: This tile takes you to the download link for the new UAB stickers, which allow you to use more than 20 custom-made Blazer icons and logos to add Blazer spirit to your iMessages.

Last month, the UAB app added a revamped IT tile, which gives you the ability to report technology problems and report WiFi problems right from your phone. And when you report a WiFi program, your phone will pinpoint for our technicians just where the WiFi outage or issue is. 

Prospective students can also apply to UAB directly from the app.

Download the UAB mobile app today and get information to help you get around on campus and get things done.

7000phishing DS

A “phishing” attack hooked more than 7,000 members of the University community Monday — but it could have been worse.

The phishing email, disguised with a subject line leading recipients to believe their account had been suspended, led 26 percent of recipients to give up their BlazerID and password to an unknown web site — on just the first day.

But the email wasn’t a phish — it was a simulation sent by UAB IT to help educate the University community about the dangers of such attacks.

If the phish had been real, more than 7,000 people could have given their credentials to a scam artist — giving those scammers an opportunity to steal their account information, personal information, even banking information or paychecks.

UAB IT has been running phishing simulations for a year and a half, and creating emails that look as realistic as possible is key in educating campus.

“Unfortunately, phishing attacks are on the rise and they are evolving – becoming more sophisticated and targeted,” said Cindy Jones, director of risk management and compliance for UAB IT. “The basic premise is the perpetrator attempts to elicit fear, curiosity, and/or a sense of urgency out of the target, so that when the target is prompted to open an attachment or fill in their sensitive information, like a username, password, or credit card number, they are likely to comply. That is how they ‘play their game,’ so when we create a campaign we try to make it as realistic as possible.”

The practice of using the simulated phishing campaigns was vetted and supported by University leadership, and members of the Information Security Liaisons group and technology professionals at UAB are informed before a phishing simulation campaign launches so they can support and assist employees and students with questions and concerns.

“Last year, we were actually able to show a decrease in susceptibility of our user base through using the phishing simulations tool, but sadly that number is on the rise again,” Jones said. “Like many Universities and businesses today we are grappling with the best way to inform and educate our community about phishing and the dangers of phishing campaigns.”

According to the Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report, 30 percent of phishing messages get opened by targeted users and 12 percent of those users click on the malicious attachment or link. 

“Our primary goal is to educate the University community on what to look for so when they are the target of a real phish they can distinguish a phishing email from a legitimate email,” Jones said. “We have had too many users give away their credentials during a real phishing campaign and literally give away their paycheck because the bad guys use their harvested login credentials to change direct deposit information.”

UAB IT offers a number of resources on phishing awareness:

In addition, as part of the PhishMe simulations, if someone falls for the campaign, he or she is taken to a specialized security awareness page that dissects the phishing email and includes our training videos and useful tips. 

Received Restricted Data DS DS
Beginning March 30, emails containing credit card or Social Security numbers sent from external parties to @uab.edu addresses will 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 IT Research Computing will hold a set of seminars on machine learning and deep learning on Tuesday, March 20.

Please register here if you are interested in attending, as it helps with planning. The seminars will be held at the Edge of Chaos at Lister Hill Library.

The seminar will be presented by application engineers from Mathworks and will consist of two sessions:

Session 1: Data Analytics with MATLAB, 9 to 11:30 a.m.

Using Data Analytics to turn large volumes of complex data into actionable information can help you improve engineering design and decision-making processes. However, developing effective analytics and integrating them into other systems can be challenging. In this session, you will learn approaches and techniques available in MATLAB to tackle these challenges.

Highlights include:

  • Accessing, exploring, and analyzing data stored in files, databases and the web
  • Techniques for cleaning, visualizing, and combining complex out-of-memory data sets
  • Prototyping, testing, and refining predictive models using machine learning methods
  • Integrating and running analytics within embedded platforms, enterprise business systems and interactive web applications

Session 2: Demystifying deep learning: A practical approach in MATLAB, 12:30 to 3 p.m. 

Are you new to deep learning and want to learn how to use it in your work?   Deep learning can achieve state-of-the-art accuracy in many humanlike tasks such as naming objects in a scene or recognizing optimal paths in an environment.

The main tasks are to assemble large data sets, create a neural network, to train, visualize, and evaluate different models, using specialized hardware - often requiring unique programming knowledge. These tasks are frequently even more challenging because of the complex theory behind them.

In this seminar, we’ll demonstrate new MATLAB features that simplify these tasks and eliminate the low-level programming. In doing so, we’ll decipher practical knowledge of the domain of deep learning.  We’ll build and train neural networks that recognize handwriting, classify food in a scene, and figure out the drivable area in a city environment.  

Along the way, you’ll see MATLAB features that make it easy to:

  • Manage extremely large sets of images
  • Visualize networks and gain insight into the black box nature of deep networks
  • Perform classification and pixel-level semantic segmentation on images
  • Import training data sets from networks such as GoogLeNet and ResNet
  • Import and use pre-trained models from TensorFlow and Caffe
  • Speed up network training with parallel computing on a cluster
  • Automate manual effort required to label ground truth
  • Automatically convert a model to CUDA to run on GPUs

After considering feedback from the University community, UAB IT has removed the external sender notification from emails sent to uab.edu email accounts.

The external sender notice was intended to help the University community distinguish potential phishing emails that come from outside the UAB email system as this has been a common method for malicious attacks.

The addition of the external sender notice was approved through shared governance and recommended by faculty representatives.

“We are exploring additional mechanisms to implement practical, effective security to protect our world-class faculty, students and staff so that they can change the world safely,” said Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., vice president and chief information officer.

To further protect the University, UAB IT recommends that faculty, staff and students take advantage of the two-factor authentication tool Duo. Multi-factor and two-factor authentication tools have proven to be the most effective defenses against phishing emails. Find more information about two-factor authentication at uab.edu/2factor.

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.

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.”