Professors who use three rooms in Heritage Hall returned from the Thanksgiving break to find updated technology in their classrooms.

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’s classroom techs have been proactively meeting with each professor who teaches in the classrooms — rooms HH121, HH124 and HH126 — to show them how to use the equipment.

Later this month, seven rooms — five in Heritage Hall and two in the Education Building — will also see an upgrade.
UAB's Research Computing team attended SC17, the premiere international supercomputing event, to learn how the latest advances in computing, storage and network technologies supporting global scientific initiatives can be applied to UAB research efforts and in support of Cheaha, UAB's high-performance computing cluster.

Dr. Puri Bangalore, interim director of research computing; John-Paul Robinson; Thomas Anthony; and Ravi Tripathi attended the November event in Denver and met with industry partners including Dell, IBM, Nvidia, and DDN to learn about the latest updates to the products that drive HPC at UAB. They learned about trends in HPC data center design and cooling technologies from vendors on the show floor and at dedicated tutorial sessions and met with academic peers from Stanford, Indiana University, Monash University, UTC, Eglin AFB, and Sandia National Laboratories to learn about how they are bringing high performance computing, cloud and integrated research services to their communities.

Bangalore organized the workshop on Exascale computing (ExaMPI).  Other members of the team attended workshops on directive-based GPU computing (WACCPD), medical imaging analysis and visualization (MIAV), HPC datacenter design, acquisition and commissioning, and use of Python in HPC (PyHPC).

Anthony was a featured speaker at the DDN booth and showcased the impact that UAB's multi-petabyte storage capacity is having on neuroimaging research at UAB. View his slides here.

About the SC Conference:

The Supercomputing Conference is an annual conference sponsored by the ACM Special Interest Group on High Performance Computing (SIGHPC) and the IEEE Computer Society. It is the premiere international conference for HPC and brings together vendors, researchers, and users of the worlds most advanced computing, storage and networking technologies for a week of meetings, workshops, tutorials, paper presentations, posters, and an expansive show floor.  SC17 was attended by more than 12,000 people.

The Supercomputing conference coincides with the fall release of the ranking for the Top500 super computers in the world.

Supercomputing features the annual construction of a state-of-the-art network named SCinet. SCinet is hub of the international networking community and is used to showcase the latest capabilities in high performance networking at the conference. The network provides production wired and wireless network services to conference attendees and vendors throughout the conference, making it an excellent demonstration of how cutting-edge research technologies can live side-by-side with production operations. SCinet is designed and built by over 200 volunteers from academia, government agencies, and industry from around the globe working together throughout the year. The network is custom built at the conference location in less than week, features over 50 miles of fiber optic cable.  This years' network supplied over 3Terabits network capacity, the equivalent of over thirty 100Gigabit university links like the one UAB installed last year.
ToyDriveToysforTots2017
For the 24th year, UAB students and employees will be coming together to make the holidays brighter for area children in need.

UAB IT is kicking off UAB’s 23rd annual Toy Drive on Wednesday, Nov. 8. UAB IT has organized the Toy Drive for more than 10 years.

AllToysToys collected in the drive will be donated to Toys for Tots. UAB is among the largest contributors to the Birmingham area Toys for Tots effort.

"We are grateful for the support of UAB employees and students to this campaign year after year,” said Eric Thompson, who organizes the Toy Drive for UAB IT each year.

Boxes to collect toy donations will be located in buildings across campus, including the Administration Building, Bartow Arena, Cudworth Hall, Heritage Hall, Medical Towers, Worrell Building, UAB Police Department, Mervyn Stern Library, Facilities, Hoehn Engineering building, Hill Student Center (at TechConnect), 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 Monday, Dec. 11, 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 third annual Drive-Thru Santa event.
UAB Employee Sale 02
Looking for a good deal on a new computer as the holidays approach?

For UAB faculty and staff, TechConnect will be offering $100 off any Dell laptop through Nov. 30 — just in time for holiday shopping. 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.


Keeping confidential information on local servers or computers poses a risk for UAB students, faculty and staff — and UAB IT needs everyone's help to keep that data safe.

UAB IT needs the help of everyone on campus to reduce the amount of data, such as Social Security numbers or personal health information, that is stored on local computers or servers.

Remember this rule: If you don't need it, delete it. And if you do need it, store restricted and sensitive information according to the Data Classification and Data Protection rules.

The video above has more tips on reducing data, and you can click on our new data reduction page to learn more.
PGP grayscreen

When you log in to your computer, do you see a gray Symantec login page?

If so, you will soon need to have PGP removed from your computer.

The Symantec PGP encryption software is going end of life on Dec. 29, 2017 — which means it will no longer be supported.

According to the UAB – Minimum Security For Computing Devices Rule, July 2017, all laptop computers used for UAB business must be encrypted to protect data from unauthorized disclosure. 

To meet this requirement, systems that require disk encryption and currently use PGP to meet that requirement should remove PGP by Dec. 29, 2017, and use Microsoft’s BitLocker or Apple’s FileVault disk encryption solution.

Desktop Services customers should contact AskIT if they have questions.

If you are not a Desktop Services customer, contact your departmental IT professionals for assistance.


After two years of successful expansion of the Cheaha supercomputer, UAB is not resting in the quest to continue building a faster high-performance computer to power groundbreaking research.

Future plans include growing the team of IT experts who assist research; introducing stronger shared governance to prioritize needs; and adding even more speed and capacity to Cheaha.

Vice President and CIO Curtis A. Carver Jr., Ph.D., spoke to researchers last month at the annual UAB Research Computing Day to share the vision for the future.

“We’ve created a space for tremendous success over the last few years, but we need your partnership,” Carver told researchers.

Cheaha began its exponential growth in June 2015, when UAB IT secured additional funding through grants and university partnerships for more storage for the high performance computer.

After growing to 110 teraflops and 6.6 petabytes of storage by fall 2016, UAB added new graphics processing units in 2017 to grow speed to 450 teraflops.

The plan, Carver said, is to grow Cheaha to 1,000 teraflops in 2018 — and perhaps even crack the top 100 list of most powerful supercomputers in the world.

The team that supports Cheaha will also be growing, adding up to 12 new employees in the coming year to assist researchers with using the supercomputer for their work. Eventually, Carver said, research computing could become a stand-alone entity, a research center to serve campus.

At Research Computing Day, Carver sought feedback from researchers who use Cheaha, and noted that UAB will be introducing a shared governance structure to better prioritize research computing needs and allocate resources.
Sending PII

Sending credit card or Social Security numbers via email can make you or others more vulnerable to identity theft — and is against UAB policy.

Beginning Dec. 1, UAB IT will begin blocking the sending of emails from @uab.edu addresses if the email appears to contain a Social Security number or credit card number.

The sender will receive an email from UAB IT’s information security team if the email is blocked.

For the past several months, individuals sending emails containing such information have been given pop-up policy tips in the Outlook email client.

The warnings are intended to alert email senders of the potential danger of sending such information.

“Sending credit card information or Social Security numbers is extremely dangerous and could leave you vulnerable to identity theft,” said Brian Rivers, assistant vice president and chief information security officer. “Our goal is to help protect our students, faculty and staff.”
For your security and convenience, UAB IT recommends that anyone using Adobe Acrobat XI and Adobe Reader XI update their software, as Adobe’s support for the products ended Oct. 15, 2017.

End of support means that Adobe no longer provides technical support, including product and/or security updates, for those software products.

Adobe recommends that you update to the latest versions of Adobe Acrobat DC and Adobe Acrobat Reader DC. By updating to the latest versions, you will benefit from the latest functional enhancements and improved security measures.

UAB offers an Acrobat DC subscription plan of $15 annually to its employees for use on UAB-owned computers. There is no charge for Acrobat Reader.

If you have questions about upgrading Adobe Acrobat or Adobe Reader, please contact AskIT.

Learn more from Adobe here.
Devices that use WiFi are vulnerable to a newly discovered and serious flaw, dubbed KRACK, in a commonly used wireless security protocol, WPA2.

Even on correctly configured wireless networks, attackers can potentially use KRACK — short for Key Reinstallation Attack — to read information that was previously assumed to be safely secured. WiFi access points as well as devices are impacted by this significant weakening of these wireless security protections.

How it works 
Devices can be tricked into installing an encryption key that allows for some or all wirelessly transmitted data to be read.

What to do 

  • Limit any potentially sensitive activities performed on wireless networks, or utilize the UAB VPN as a way to protect communications when on wireless at UAB or at home. 
  • Use wired networks if possible.
  • Update all wireless devices to address the vulnerability. This will depend on vendors creating and releasing the updates for various devices, including routers and access points as well as phones, tablets and laptops.
  • Ensure any activities on that must be performed on wireless networks are done via secure channels (HTTPS websites, SSH, S-FTP). Avoid unencrypted channels such as HTTP websites, Telnet, FTP.
  • Watch for suspicious individuals in a close proximity to your wireless network.
After a successful engagement that brought major improvements to the AskIT help desk, UAB IT is partnering again with HDI to make changes to the Desktop Services unit.

After working over the past year with HDI — an industry-leading customer service consultant — AskIT improved its customer service rating to a 2.6. HDI has now evaluated Desktop Services and is developing an improvement plan for the unit, whose technicians are responsible for tech help for departments and units across campus. The goal is to improve to a 2.5 rating in nine months.

"Our challenge is to evolve into a trusted partner who consistently provides the level of IT support services needed for an innovative, world-class academic, medical and research institution," said Jamie Witter, associate director for Desktop Services.

Vice President and Chief Information Officer Dr. Curtis A. Carver Jr. will be working with Desktop Services during this time to see for himself the needs of Desktop customers, so don't be surprised if Carver shows up to help install a new computer or move a printer for you.

"As I did when we were working to improve AskIT, I want to hear first-hand about the challenges our customers face and how we can improve our services to empower you to quickly get back to work when you have technical issues," Carver said.

Among the improvements Desktop would like to make are putting more structure around the processes the technicians use to respond to customer incidents and requests; reducing the resolution time for incidents and requests; and resolving more issues remotely, so you can more quickly get back to work. 

Carver will also be checking in with customers periodically over the next few months to get feedback about how Desktop can improve.
legionfieldcrowd

Thanks to a collaborative effort, there were few problems despite the record crowd at Legion Field for the first Blazers football game of the season on Sept. 2.

This system streamlined the entry of any students and fans into the stadium cutting down entry time with just a swipe of a BlazerID or other UAB fans with just a scan of a ticket. This partnered with the addition of WiFi access points spots around the 17 entry gates at Legion Field helped make this large initiative possible.

"Not only was the Digital Ticketing Project a great success, game one of 'the return' was also, hugely successful. All parties involved deserve a round of applause for a job well done," said Nelvin Short, deputy director of telecommunications for the City of Birmingham.

IT Project Manager Carrau Brewer also applauded the effort.

"Sometimes, success is measured by the dollars and cents. In the case of this project, we would like to measure success by applauding your hard work for accommodating the 45,212 fans that attended the return of football at UAB as well as being played at the Legendary Legion Field," Brewer said.

Learn more about how UAB IT supports the Blazers here.
Want free ice cream? UAB IT is hosting a free ice cream social for students to kick off its second annual free Laptop Checkup for students.

The events are part of the celebration of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, which serves to remind everyone of the importance of information security. The ice cream social will be held Monday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in room 318 at the Hill Student Center. Stop by for games, information and, of course, free ice cream.

Then come back Tuesday through Thursday, Oct. 11-12, for the free Laptop Checkup. Our tech experts wil ltake a look at your laptop to make sure it is free of viruses and other security risks.
MultiplyingPhish
When a suspicious email hits your inbox, it is sometimes followed by even more — but why so many?

If one person at UAB falls for a phishing email, their account can become compromised — and send out dozens or hundreds of similar phishing emails, all from that legitimate but compromised account. Because the phish comes from what appears to be a legitimate account, more people are apt to click links or attachments in the email.

And if more people fall for the phish, the emails continue to spread.

When phishing reports are made to UAB IT, the Information Security team acts quickly to recover compromised accounts and block the senders and suspicious URLs. That's why reporting a phishing email — through the PhishMe Reporter button in Outlook or by forwarding to phishing@uab.edu — is so important to stopping the spread of malicious emails.

Learn more about phishing and how to recognize a phish at uab.edu/phishing.
Unlimited backup storage is available through UAB IT with CrashPlan, a service that provides easy, automatic cloud backup for your data.

The service will be available for $10 per month per user.

CrashPlan offers continuous cloud backup with unlimited storage, as well as encryption for your data.

CrashPlan is available for faculty and staff across campus.

Request CrashPlan through the IT Service Portal.
StacyBallard


Stacy Ballard has been a UAB football fan since the beginning, when she was a student at the university.

“I followed many sports,” said Ballard, a systems analyst for UAB IT. “I was here when it started. I was a student here, alumni, employee so I’m just proud to be a part of it all.”

Ballard is an important part of the UAB team on campus — her work with UAB systems helps make sure everyone gets paid on time every month.

Having held season tickets for years, Ballard will be no stranger to Legion Field on Saturday, Sept. 2, when the Blazers take to the field for the first time in two years. She is proud of the city’s support for UAB.

“It was the fans and community that rallied to raise the money to bring it back and the support that exists now,” she said.

Ballard missed the football team during its absence but is elated about the return. She is excited to cheer on the team this fall — especially with a family of fellow supporters in the stands.

What’s her favorite part of the football season?

“I would put the game itself first and cheering the team on and then seeing others around you that you get to know or already know from working here or from obviously being a season ticket holder,” she said.
UAB IT will be adding new email security enhancements to protect UAB faculty, staff and students.

The change will take advantage of attachment handling improvements in Office 365 to reduce the number of potentially dangerous attachments.

Attachment files that are prohibited include those with these extensions: .ace, .ani, .app, .docm, .exe, .jar, .reg, .scr, .vbe, .vbs.

Most email users will not see any changes to their email habits, as most of the file types prohibited are already prevented by their email client.

For more information on email service constraints, please see this knowledge article in the IT Service Portal.
AskIT MoveIn Hours

AskIT, UAB IT's help desk for students, faculty and staff, will be open extended hours during move-in weekend and during the first week of classes.

Visit our trained technicians at the help desk at Sterne Library, OneStop, the Residence Life Center throughout move-in weekend and during the week if you have questions about connecting to WiFi, resetting your BlazerID password, or any other tech questions.

AskIT staff will working these extended hours:
  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 25, at Sterne Library and OneStop at the Hill Student Center
  • 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at RLC on Saturday, Aug. 26, during freshman move-in
  • 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at OneStop at the Hill Center on Saturday, Aug. 26
  • 1 to 5 p.m. at OneStop on Sunday, Aug. 27
  • 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at OneStop and Sterne Library from Aug. 28-Sept. 1


In addition, you can visit our TechConnect store on the first floor of the Hill Student Center, which will be open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday.

Welcome back, Blazers!


Beginning Oct. 1, UAB Dropbox file-sharing will be replaced by UAB Box and OneDrive, services that offer the same functionality with enhanced features such as greater and even unlimited storage.

The software that runs UAB Dropbox is nearing the end of its supportable life, so UAB IT held town halls in early summer to co-author solutions for its replacement with the campus community.

What will take place: 
On Oct. 1, 2017, no new file uploads to UAB Dropbox will be allowed. You will still be able to download files from Dropbox until they have all expired on Oct. 14, 2017. 
On Oct. 14, 2017, the service will be turned off, and the Dropbox page will redirect users to alternatives using UAB Box or OneDrive.

Click HERE to learn how to transfer files using UAB Box. 
Click HERE to learn how to transfer files using Microsoft OneDrive. 
Click HERE to read the FAQs associated with this service enhancement.

Sharefile is the only approved file transfer method for UAB Health System personnel. Click here for more information.
A new phishing email attempt is circulating among UAB students, faculty and staff. The email claims that your BlazerID is about to expire.

The email looks similar to the one below. Some emails may even come from valid but compromised UAB email accounts.

BlazerID AbouttoExpire
If you receive a similar email, please report it using the "PhishMe Reporter" button on your Outlook, or forward to phishing@uab.edu

To avoid phishing scams, pay close attention to the sender and any links in the email. If they look unusual, ignore them. You can always log in to a known web site — such as the BlazerID web site — instead of clicking on the link.

The video below gives more tips on how to catch a phish.