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.

To ensure UAB's mobile app can continue to deliver easy access to campus systems, the app will undergo maintenance resulting in a brief outage from 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 5.

The UAB mobile app offers a seamless mobile integration with Canvas, BlazerNET, the campus map, directory and other necessary campus systems. Download it today to stay connected.


Improvements to the Box.com web interface will make it easier for UAB employees to search for and share documents when using UAB Box. 

If you are using UAB Box, you can switch to the new interface now to try it out. Box will automatically switch the interface for all users on Sept. 8, 2017. 

Changes include better search capabilities using metadata, simplified sharing options and improved tile view. Notifications will also be renamed “messages” and will be accessible from the new left sidebar. 

UAB Box is a free cloud storage and collaboration tool available to campus faculty and staff. Storage capacity is unlimited, and files up to 15GB can be uploaded.  

Documentation about the changes has been placed on UAB Box in the “Welcome to UAB Box” folder. In that folder is a “New Box Experience” folder containing an inventory of changes and a short video explaining some of the differences between the new interface and the original one. Additional information can be found here [link to KB article].  

To try out the new interface, click here. You can revert to the original interface by clicking the question mark icon near your name in the upper right corner of the Box web page and clicking the link next to “Need to switch back to the old Box Experience?” 

UAB IT recommends you switch to the new interface as early as possible to become familiar with it. 

On Sept. 8, 2017, Box.com will enforce the use of this new interface for all users. 
Would a share in UAB’s supercomputer help you with groundbreaking research?

UAB IT is offering a unique opportunity for UAB faculty and researchers to invest in the UAB research computing infrastructure by providing a dollar-for-dollar match toward the purchase of compute resources. UAB’s research computing cluster is one of the fastest in the state.

The matching program effectively enables the researcher to get priority access to twice the compute resources in which they invest.

Priority access will be implemented through scheduler policies, ensuring the maximum wait time to access those priority compute resources will not exceed two hours.

When these resources are not in use, they will be available to all cluster users who have individual jobs that take less than two hours to execute (i.e., these resources will be part of the express queue). These resources will be available to the user in this mode for a period of three years, after which the priority to use expires, and they will be added to the general compute pool.

Since there is a limited amount of funds set aside for this matching program, requests are reviewed on a first-come, first-served basis and approved based on the matching amount and specific needs for the purchase.

The matching program for the 2016-2017 fiscal year has $150,000 available for matching and is restricted to specific hardware configurations and only minor variations to these configurations are allowed (e.g., additional RAM). The configurations that are currently supported are:

  • Two Intel Xeon E5-2680 v4 2.4GHz CPUs (total 28 cores) and four NVIDIA Tesla P100 16GB GPUs without NVLINK; 256 GB RAM; EDR InfiniBand - $32,000
  • Two Intel Xeon E5-2680 v4 2.4GHz CPUs (total 28 cores) and four NVIDIA Tesla P100 16GB GPUs with NVLINK; 256 GB RAM; EDR InfiniBand - $38,000
The purchased resources will be operated and supported by the UAB IT as a standard part the cluster. All existing procedures and policies regarding access and usage to the cluster remain the same. These resources will be accessed through the existing job scheduler and workload manager (SLURM). Advanced reservation of these resources will be available as needed. 


A number of UAB students and employees have received scam emails tempting them with potential job offers.

The emails, with the subject line “job/internship vacancy,” come from multiple senders who are impersonating legitimate companies or brands.

The text of the message is similar to the following:

“Your resume was forwarded to me from your school career centre in response to an employment/job vacancy. Kindly get back to me at your earliest convenience if you are still looking for an opportunity to pursue.”

These email scams are likely intended to try to steal personal information or may even try to get the recipients involved, unintentionally, in illegal activity.

Students and employees should be wary of any unsolicited emails gauging your interest in a job — especially if you did not apply to the company.

Hover over the email address to check that the sender name matches the email address. Find other tips for detecting phishing emails in the video above.

If you receive a similar email, you should report it to UAB IT’s information security team by clicking the “PhishMe Reporter” button in Outlook, or by forwarding it to phishing@uab.edu.

According to the FBI, such employment email scams commonly target college students.


  • Scammers post online job advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions.
  • The student employee receives counterfeit checks in the mail or via e-mail and is instructed to deposit the checks into their personal checking account.
  • The scammer then directs the student to withdraw the funds from their checking account and send a portion, via wire transfer, to another individual. Often, the transfer of funds is to a “vendor,” purportedly for equipment, materials, or software necessary for the job.
  • Subsequently, the checks are confirmed to be fraudulent by the bank.


  • "You will need some materials/software and also a time tracker to commence your training and orientation and also you need the software to get started with work. The funds for the software will be provided for you by the company via check. Make sure you use them as instructed for the software and I will refer you to the vendor you are to purchase them from, okay."
  • "I have forwarded your start-up progress report to the HR Dept. and they will be facilitating your start-up funds with which you will be getting your working equipment from vendors and getting started with training."
  • "Enclosed is your first check. Please cash the check, take $300 out as your pay, and send the rest to the vendor for supplies."


  • The student's bank account may be closed due to fraudulent activity and a report could be filed by the bank with a credit bureau or law enforcement agency.
  • The student is responsible for reimbursing the bank the amount of the counterfeit checks.
  • The scamming incident could adversely affect the student’s credit record.
  • The scammers often obtain personal information from the student while posing as their employer, leaving them vulnerable to identity theft.
  • Scammers seeking to acquire funds through fraudulent methods could potentially utilize the money to fund illicit criminal or terrorist activity.


  • Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions to other individuals or accounts.
  • Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
  • Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel and report to the FBI. Tell your friends to be on the lookout for the scam.
  • If you have been a victim of this scam or any other Internet-related scam, you may file a complaint with the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.IC3.gov and notify your campus police.
Sending PII
Sending Social Security numbers or medical record numbers via email can make you or others more vulnerable to identity theft.

UAB IT will soon implement policy tip warnings via email if it appears you are trying to send a Social Security number or medical record number via your UAB email account.

These warnings are intended to alert you to potential danger and help you protect your data and the information of others.

The popup policy tip will say: "The content of this email appears to conflict with UAB Policy regarding unsecured transmission of Social Security numbers, medical record numbers or other personally identifiable information. Be safe and review the email content before sending."

With the introduction of the policy tip, emails will not yet be blocked from being sent. But emails that appear to include Social Security or medical record number information will eventually be blocked — both in incoming and outgoing emails.

A policy tip has already been established to prevent UAB email users from sending credit card numbers.

“Sending credit card information, Social Security numbers, dates of birth and other personal or financial information is extremely dangerous and could leave you or others vulnerable to identity theft,” said Brian Rivers, assistant vice president and chief information security officer. “Our goal with these policy tips is to help protect our students, faculty and staff.”
UAB IT has completed the migration of all faculty and staff email accounts to Office 365.

The change allows UAB faculty and staff to take advantage of the same email system used by students. Office 365 is a cloud-based system that offers new tools and continues upgrades to improve the service and environment.

The new link to online mail is mail.uab.edu. That email link will be changed on the UAB Quicklinks, which appears on all UAB web sites, on Wedesday, July 12.

Learn more about Office 365 here.