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UA Public Wireless Network Discontinued

In early 2014, the University of Alabama will decommission the UA public wireless network. All users will be required to log on to UA-WPA2 instead. The Office of Information Technology is making this change in order to provide the most up-to-date wireless security and scalability in our wireless infrastructure. The change will not affect other wireless networks in use on campus. For additional details, go to www.oit.ua.edu anyone with questions should contact the IT Service Desk at itsd@ua.edu or 205.348.5555. Thank you

Making UA Technology-Tough

All of the wizards and geeks over in OIT have been working hard for many months setting things up so that even the worst disaster would not knock out critical systems and applications for more than just a few hours.  Such a capability is something most Universities only wish they had.  But being in Tuscaloosa we certainly understand the importance of this, and so UA has made the necessary investment to properly prepare for any eventuality.  We now have an off-campus Continuity of Operations computer center operational in a secure facility in Atlanta.

The ability to quickly transfer enterprise IT operations from one location to another is a tricky and complex business, though.  So to be sure it works, a series of exercises are being performed.   For the Banner application suite, including the myBama portal, production systems will be transitioned to the Atlanta facility for one week beginning Sunday, May 19th.

The myBama portal required reengineering to enable the transition.  As a result you may notice some small differences to the myBama pages. In most cases these are self-explanatory and only cosmetic in nature.  If you customized your myBama home page, your customizations will not be applied during this exercise.  The currently operational myBama (as well as all the other Banner applications) will return to normal operations from the UA data center on Sunday, May 26th.

Securing a Tablet for Web Browsing

January 4, 2013 – Internet on the go has finally become a reality with today’s mobile technology. Whether you’re checking email at the coffee shop or taking a quick conference call at the beach, tablets make it easy to stay entertained and productive virtually anywhere life takes you.

Beware though. Taking your tablet online can make you vulnerable to an assortment of internet dangers, including identity theft and hackers. This is especially true if you’re taking advantage of a public hotspot rather than your home network. Follow these simple steps to ensure safe and secure browsing no matter where you are.

1. Use 3G rather than free WiFi

Wireless hotspots are often unsecured, leaving your information within sniffing reach of anyone within range of joining the network. Even encrypted WiFi connections can make your data accessible to the other guests around you. A 3G or 4G data plan is the best option for security, but not all mobile services are unlimited. The next few tips will minimize your risks when you do connect through a public network.

2. Use a VPN

Virtual private networks (VPN) are available through many mobile service providers. Featuring multiple layers of encryption, a VPN offers a secure way to surf the web without compromising your sensitive data. A VPN may also include additional features, such as remote desktop access to safely and conveniently access and transfer files between your home and work networks.

3. Be selective with your browsing

If you are not using a VPN, it’s important to use caution when you’re surfing the web using a WiFi hotspot. Websites with https addresses (rather than just http) are encrypted for better security. Make sure your email server uses this encryption throughout your session to keep snooping eyes out of your inbox. Save sensitive activities like banking or shopping for home if you can.

4. Keep your device secure

Hopefully, everyone understands the importance of protecting your tablet from physical thieves. You should have a strong PIN code or passphrase to prevent unauthorized access, and follow Naked Security’s advice on how to protect your phone or tablet from thieves.

But be aware of the others ways criminals could access your data or tablet’s resources.

Whether you’re connecting over a 3G network or a public hotspot, a good security app can prevent many headaches. These apps are similar to computer security software and can help protect your device from malware, as well as other online mishaps.

5. Download from trusted sources

Even when you’re browsing over a secure network, certain types of websites can pose threats to the security of your tablet. Some sites may attempt to download files to your device that could collect information or damage your existing files. Downloading apps from third-party sources can put your device at risk as well. Stick to trusted app stores such as the iOS App Store, Google Play and the Amazon App Store.

Historically, the official marketplaces have been suffered less from malicious apps than the third-party unofficial stores.

6. Keep your OS and apps up-to-date

Keeping your tablet and its software up to date is the best way to protect yourself as well as your device. System upgrades are particularly important because many of these updates contain vital security fixes. Running a previous version of the operating system can open your device up to even more dangers, especially hackers. Be sure to keep your apps up to date as well. Many have access to a great deal of information.

Bringing Ideas to Life With 3-D Printers

September 19, 2012 – Printing at The University of Alabama is taking a step into another dimension – literally.

Construction has started in Hardaway Hall on a 3-D printing lab that will allow students across multiple areas of studies to bring their three-dimensional creations to life. Expected to be completed before the end of next semester, it will consist of four 3-D printers and two 3-D scanners.

“The idea is getting manufacturing into the hands of people,” associate professor in The College of Engineering Andrew Graettinger said.

Graettinger is part of an informal committee to oversee the project comprised of faculty members from across different areas of campus, including Shane Sharpe, dean of the UA Honors College, and Craig Wedderspoon, an associate professor of art and sculpture.

“The really exciting thing to me is the interplay between handmade and digital,” Wedderspoon said. “And being able to explore where that’s going to take us on the arts side of things.”

There are different styles of 3-D printers, each with different functions and uses.

The most common technology is called fused deposition modeling, which works almost like a hot glue gun. The printer splits the part into layers and prints each layer with a fine plastic filament material, the location of which is controlled by computer software.

The second type uses the Objet poly-jet process, much like an ink-jet printer. The jet head slides back and forth, laying down a liquid photo-polymer material. An ultraviolet light then shines on the material, hardening it before the next layer is laid down.

Both types of printers will be featured in the lab, which will be housed in Room 160 of Hardaway Hall, in addition to 3-D scanners, which can make digital models out of existing objects. These objects can then be modified on the computer and reprinted for more accurate and refined results.

Animation and game design students could print out physical models of their creations. Anatomy students can create models of bones and other structures to examine more closely. All students will be able to use the printers.

“What that does is it enables us to merge the handmade and digital worlds,” Wedderspoon said. “There’s just so many possibilities”

3-D printing is not an entirely new concept at Alabama. The Computer-Based Honors program installed its own 3-D printer in the spring for its students to use on their independent research projects. The College of Engineering already has one and other faculty have their own as a result of research grants.

A variety of projects have already been completed. One CBH student printed fake fish and later painted them to resemble actual species. When placed in a tank with living fish, the real fish reacted to the printed models. Amy Lang, an associate professor of aerospace engineering scanned a shark fin and printed a new one that was placed in a water tunnel to examine the difference between a real shark fin with moveable scales and her model without them.

Hisham Ali, a senior majoring in aerospace engineering and CBH student, researched 3-D printing in his internship with NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville this summer. Ali used his experience with the 3-D printer in CBH to support NASA’s development of 3-D printing in space.

The project examined the effectiveness of printing by sending the designs from earth to space, allowing plans to be flexible by printing one set of parts for one use, melting them down, then reusing the material to print another set of parts for a different use, drastically reducing the cost of certain missions.

“If you need one set of tools going to Mars, maybe once you get to Mars you need a separate set of tools,” Ali said. “It saves you from bringing so much mass into space.”

Ali later used his experience to consult the UA lab, advising Graettinger and other faculty on which technologies would be most effective on campus as a result of his research.

Students will be able to use the lab at no cost to them. Graettinger said the lab will be tracking factors such as the users, material use and costs. But instead of the cost to run the lab, the focus is on encouraging students to make their creations come life.

“These 3-D printers will allow you to print anything you want,” Graettinger said. “It’s really a shift from manufacturing by few to manufacturing by everybody.”

 Source: Marc Torrence – Crimson White

New Secure Wireless Network

September 7, 2012 – The Office of Information Technology (OIT) is pleased to announce a new secure wireless network for Faculty & Staff.  In order to connect to UA-WPA2, you will need to install XpressConnect on your device by visiting:  http://wpa2setup.ua.edu/CloudPath/.  As part of the installation process, you will be required to enter your myBama ID and password.

UA-WPA2 provides secure wireless communications through the use of WPA2 Enterprise and will replace the pre-shared key SSID rolled out as an interim solution last year (PSK).  Starting in October 2012, UA-WPA2 will replace UA Public Wireless for all Faculty and Staff.

For instructions on installing UA-WPA2’s XpressConnect client, click here.  There you will find step-by-step instructions for a variety of devices as well as a troubleshooting guide.

If you need assistance downloading the XpressConnect client or have difficulties connecting to UA-WPA2, please contact the IT Service Desk at itsd@ua.edu or 205-348-5555.

New Phishing Email

June 7, 2012 - On any suspicious email, always check the “From” address and the location of any URL in the message.  If the message originated from the University, the “From” address should end with a ua.edu.  Any associated URL in the message should also contain a ua.edu before the first slash (/).

ISSUE:

OIT received questions concerning a Phishing email.  It is an attempt to steal usernames and passwords, and possibly infect your system with malicious code.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you received this email, please delete it.  If you answered this email, please change your email password immediately.  If you need assistancechanging your email password, please contact the IT Service Desk at 348-5555.

HOW CAN I TELL THIS IS A FAKE?

The “From” address in the example below seems to come from williams[dot]edu (or other non-UA entity) which is not a UA address (ending in …ua.edu).

There is no reason why an office UA email would come from outside the University of Alabama.

Always remember, the University of Alabama, will never ask you for your password in an email or email you a link that request your password.

—-

From: Williams Administrator webmaster[at]williams[dot]edu
Date: June 7, 2012 10:20:23 AM CDT

Subject: Your Webmail Account Has Been Suspended

Dear Candidate
We had problem processing your profile due to some errors in your account information
you are required to update your account to rectify the problem
Click Here
to log in through our SSL secured server

 

This message has been scanned by Norton Anti virus
and is found clean from virus and phishing.

 

Listserv Change

June 7, 2012 – The Office of Information Technology announces a change to Listserv on Thursday, June 14. The preferred Listserv hostname will be changed from bama.ua.edu to listserv.ua.edu at 6:00am.

WHAT WILL CHANGE?

When Listserv sends email, it will use “LISTSERV.UA.EDU” instead of “BAMA.UA.EDU” to refer to itself. For example, Dialog Extra, published via the UA Listserv, will show that it was sent to UA@LISTSERV.UA.EDU rather than UA@BAMA.UA.EDU. Existing lists will accept email under either hostname, but new lists will work only with listserv.ua.edu.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO?

If you use Listserv, please update your contacts and bookmarks to reflect the change in hostname. Listserv’s bama.ua.edu addresses will still work after the change, but will no longer be the preferred way to reach Listserv. If you are using rules to sort or filter email you receive from Listserv, then you may need to update your rules if they contain references to the hostname bama.ua.edu.

WHY ARE WE MAKING THIS CHANGE?

To provide a better quality of service for Listserv, we are planning to move it to a dedicated system that will be better protected against hardware, software, or network failure. Changing the preferred hostname will prepare for the move by separating Listserv email and web traffic from all other activity on Bama so that it can be easily rerouted to the new system at a later date.

Microsoft Security Advisory

June 5, 2012 – Microsoft has just released security advisory (2718704). This advisory deals with unauthorized digital certificates derived from a Microsoft Certificate Authority. Microsoft released a patch to revoke the Certificate Authorities that issued these certs. Any machines managed with KBOX will get the patch automatically. If your area isn’t using KBOX we recommend running windows update to download the security patch. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Here are some things to look out for:

1.      Most victims running 32-bit Windows 7 or XP, does not work on Win 7 64-bit

2.      One package it is using to infect is called (  WuSetupV.exe)

3.      From what is known so far it distributed updates internally via a virtual server named  “MSHOME-F3BE293C

4.      “Gadget” module inside of Flame (responsible for spreading the updates) only becomes active when time zone on machine is set to UTC+2 or more ( I believe we are UTC -6 ?)

For more information, please visit http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/security/advisory/2718704 .

Service Interruption 5/31

June 5, 2012 – On Thursday, May 31st at approximately 7:45am, OIT’s 24/7 monitoring software alerted on-call personnel to a network interruption. An automated recovery process, designed to reduce the impact of an interruption, failed to operate according to specifications.  As a result, multiple central services, including network connectivity, e-mail, internet, telephone service to the IT Service Desk, and various departmental applications were unavailable until approximately 8:40am.

OIT has identified the problem within the recovery process and is implementing steps to mitigate both the likelihood and the impact of similar failures in the future.  OIT continues to monitor the availability of network and central services 24/7 and is immediately notified of any issues.

We apologize for any inconvenience.

Phishing Attempt

ISSUE:

OIT received questions concerning a Phishing email sent to over 200 individuals.  It is an attempt to steal usernames and passwords.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?

If you received this email, please delete it.  If you answered this email, please change your email password immediately.  If you need assistance changing your email password, please contact the IT Service Desk at 348-5555.

HOW CAN I TELL THIS IS A FAKE?

The “From” address seems to come from “ [at]Bridgeton.k12.nj.us” which is not a UA address (ending in …ua.edu).

There is no reason why an administrator email would come from outside the University of Alabama.

Always remember, the University of Alabama, will never ask you for your password in an email or email you a link that request your password.

From: Wilbert Barry [mailto:WBarry[at]bridgeton[dot]k12[dot]nj[dot]us]

Sent: Thursday, May 24, 2012 8:46 AM

Subject: Message From Administrator

Attention;

There’ve been an automatic security update on your email address. Click here to complete update

Please note that you have withing 24 hours to complete this update. because you might lose acess to your Email Box.

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