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.
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