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Beware: Malicious emails threaten to hold files hostage
Posted by Richard Watt on 28 October 2015 11:10 AM


UAB users have been hit in the past day with emails containing malicious attachments that could encrypt users' files, enabling attachers to hold the files for ransom.

The recent emails contain unzipped Word document attachments that pretend to be a job applicant's resume or CV. The image below is similar to what users have received:


When the user opens the attachment, a particularly nasty malware called CryptoLocker is released onto the user's computer.

CryptoLocker malware holds the user's machine hostage by encrypting all of the user's files, making them inaccessible without the required passkey.

The attacker offers the victim the passkey for a fee of a few hundred dollars, often paid by entering a prepaid credit card number the victim must purchase.

There is no way to simply remove the malware. The user must either pay the ransom (which does not always work) OR if they keep consistent backups, rebuild the machine and load the backup onto it.

Anyone who receives such an email is urged to report it to the DOM IT Help Desk.

Follow these tips to avoid phishing and other scam emails:

  • Don't open attachments from strangers or even friends if you aren't expecting them. The attachment could contain a virus that can infect your computer.
  • Do NOT click links in messages. Type a trusted web address in your browser or Google for the web site if you don't know the address.
  • When there is a link in an email, do the "hover test" and hover your mouse over the link to see where it is actually redirecting you.
  • Never type personal, sensitive information (such as passwords or account numbers) on web sites without verifying the web site's authenticity and security—look for an "https" in the address bar.
  • Verify the address. Malicious web sites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the address may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (.com vs. .edu).
  • Misspellings and grammatical errors can be a dead giveaway in phishing emails and subject lines.
  • If you are unsure whether a request is legitimate, contact the company directly. Do NOT use contact information provided in the request.
  • Protect your password. Information security and IT officials at both the university and UAB Hospital will never ask users for passwords or any other sensitive information.
  • Always report suspicious activity. If you have any questions or you receive a suspicious email that you want to report, please contact the DOM IT Help desk at 205-975-HELP (205-975-4357) or

[via UAB IT]

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Holiday Phishing emails and online scams
Posted by Nazmul Islam on 13 December 2013 12:21 PM

It came to our attention that quite a few phishing emails and online scams specially with the context of holiday season are in circulation. Phishing emails are basically fraudulent emails that pretend to have come from legitimate company or user. Phishing emails attempt to entice users to submit private information or install unwanted programs such as malware, virus, trojan, etc. We urge everybody to exercise safe computing and be extra cautious on emails and Internet links. If you notice that your computer is behaving strangely, showing pop-ups, or is unusually slow, please contact us immediately.

 We want to emphasize these security best practices on emails from unknown users:

  • Do not open emails that look suspicious or from unknown users.
  • Never click on links
  • Do not open attachments
  • Never send private and sensitive information (Credit card information, password, PIN, etc.) by emails. On websites, verify the legitimacy of website before supplying these information.
  • Be extremely careful on emails regarding holiday deals, cheap airline tickets, order placement and payment processing, etc.

On your home computers, please also make sure that your computer is protected with an AntiVirus software and is up-to-date.

Refer to these sites for more information:

Contact DOM IT if you have any question!

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ALERT: Phishing E-mail is being distributed
Posted by Nazmul Islam on 19 July 2013 09:21 AM

If you recieve an email seemingly from IT Alert ( asking you to confirm your BlazerID and Password in response to an unauthorized login attempt, please IGNORE and DELETE that message. It's a phishing email that's being distributed to UAB users. Phishing refers to an email that attempts to entice users to surrender personal and confidential information.

Below is a screenshot of the email.

Phishing Email

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UAB IT Requires Users to Change BlazerID Password
Posted by Nazmul Islam on 15 July 2013 12:21 PM

IMPORTANT: UAB IT Requires Users to Change BlazerID Password

UAB is kicking off a campaign to require that all UAB employees, staff, and students change their  BlazerID password. Beginning today (7/15/2013), emails are being sent to notify all users of this requirement. The password changes must be implemented within the next two weeks (by July 30, 2013) or the BlazerID will be blocked and users will not be able to access UAB systems. 

For more information: visit

To change your BlazerID password: visit

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Ten Ways to Work More Securely (By UAB HIPAA Security Officer)
Posted by Nazmul Islam on 12 July 2013 12:14 PM

The security of your computer and data is crucial for you and the success of UAB/UABHS. Lost or stolen information can expose confidential or personal information. The more you do to keep your computer secure, the safer your information will be. Use these 10 tips to learn ways you can help protect your computer, your data, and our networks.

1. Work with HSIS or UAB IT

Make sure that you install all of the patches and updates that your vendors recommend. In addition to installing Windows and Office updates, HSIS or UAB IT might require you to install additional software, such as a firewall or a customized product solution. Making these regular installations will keep your computer and our networks as secure as possible.

2. Use strong passwords

Passwords provide the first line of defense against unauthorized access to your computer, and a good password is often underestimated. Weak passwords provide attackers with easy access to your computer and network. Strong passwords are considerably harder to crack, even with the latest password-cracking software.

A strong password:

  • Is at least eight characters long.
  • Does not contain your user name, real name, or organization name.
  • Does not contain a complete dictionary word.
  • Is significantly different from previous passwords. Passwords that change just slightly—such as Password1, Password2, Password3—are not strong.
  • Contains characters from each of the following groups:
    • Uppercase and/or lowercase letters.
    • Numbers
    • Symbols (!, @, #, $, %, etc.)

3. Don't enable the Save Password option

Make it mandatory for you—or someone else trying to access your computer—to enter your password on all operating system or application settings. If a dialog box prompts you about remembering the password, rather than requiring you to enter it, just choose no. Allowing the password to be saved negates having the password at all.

4. Use network file shares instead of local file shares

Rather than opening up your computer to co-workers, use network file shares to collaborate on documents. And restrict access to the network file share to only those who need it. If you're working on a team, you have lots of other options—for example, Microsoft SharePoint Workspace 2010.

5. Lock your computer when you leave your desk

If you're going to be away from your desk for a while, make sure your computer is locked.

To lock your computer:

  • On your keyboard, press CTRL+ALT+DELETE at the same time.
  • Click Lock this computer (Lock Computer if you're running Windows XP).
  • To unlock your computer, press CTRL+ALT+DELETE and enter your password.

REMEMBER - CTRL+ALT+DELETE before you leave your seat!

6. Use password protection on your screensaver

Sometimes you're away from your desk for longer than you unexpected.  Plan for those situations by setting up your computer so that it locks itself after a specified amount of time.

7. Encrypt files containing confidential or business critical files

You keep valuable and sensitive data on your computer. Encrypting your data keeps it as secure as possible. To help keep unauthorized people from accessing your data—even if your computer is lost or stolen—you should encrypt all sensitive data. We highly recommend that you learn how to encrypt a file or folder to keep it safe.

8. Don't open questionable emails

If an email message just doesn't look right, it probably isn't. Forward the email message to your IT administrator to verify before you open it.

9. Encrypt email messages when appropriate

If you're sending confidential or business-critical information, encrypt the email and any files attached to it. Only recipients who have the private key that matches the public key you used to encrypt the message can read it.

10. Use the Junk Email Filter in Outlook

Receiving spam, or junk email messages, isn't just annoying. Some spam can include potentially harmful viruses that can cause damage to your computer and your company's network. The Junk Email Filter reduces the amount of junk email messages, or spam, you receive in your Inbox. Good news—if your junk mail filter is already active, you can always change the settings.

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VPN connection now required for Remote Desktop users
Posted by Lacinda A Riesland on 25 May 2012 10:04 AM
In order to remote desktop to your UAB computer, you need to first connect to the UAB VPN. See for more information regarding VPN software and configuration. When you are prompted to sign in with your blazerID & password, make sure to select "UABSecure Access" from the dropdown box.

After you have connected to the UAB VPN, you will then be able to remote desktop to your UAB computer.

This change requiring VPN connectivity was implemented March 16, 2012 by UAB IT for the entire campus because of a vulnerability in the desktop protocol. You can view the announcement here:

If you have any questions please call the help desk at 5-4357.

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