January 2021 Newsletter

January 21, 2021

Cybersecurity Alert

We continue to see phishing attempts via text message and to personal Gmail accounts as well as CUIMC user accounts. We appreciate your vigilance as it is critical that we continue to exercise extreme caution and thoughtful judgment when opening, responding to, or clicking on links to professional and personal email and text messages. This includes CUIMC email as well as any personal email accounts through Gmail, Yahoo, AOL, etc. While we cannot prevent phishing attempts, we can train ourselves and our staff to follow best practice guidelines and report suspicious activity. 

To ensure your safety and that of the CUIMC community: 

  • Do not give out sensitive information via work or personal email. Social engineering is the process of deceiving individuals into providing personal information to seemingly trusted agents who turn out to be malicious actors.  
  • Always verify the authenticity of requests from companies or individuals by contacting them directly. If you are asked to provide personal information via email, you should independently contact the company directly to verify this request. 
  • Be suspicious of unknown links or requests sent via email or text message. Do not click on unknown links or answer personal questions sent to your mobile device, regardless of who the sender appears to be. 

Please click here for additional information on how to protect yourself and your team from falling for phishing attacks. 

Cybersecurity is paramount - please forward suspicious emails to CUIMC IT via spam-abuse@cumc.columbia.edu for review. Our team will also answer any questions that you may have. 

TikTok Usage Strategy

Due to heightened unease regarding the copious amount of data collected by TikTok the overall recommendation is to minimize institutional exposure to the application. Technical assessments reveal that the application has high privacy risks; the primary concern regarding the CUIMC environment is the risk of data scraping. Critical discourse surrounding TikTok has focused on national security issues and digital warfare – Columbia is unfortunately not immune to this exposure given our involvement in US research and intellectual property development.

To mitigate these risks, CUIMC IT has established the following guidelines:

  • TikTok installation is prohibited on corporate devices – use is limited to web clients only
  • Adoption is limited to non-administrative functions and external facing engagements with business value
  • The use of other social media platforms should be prioritized over TikTok
  • Adherence to the CUIMC social media policy is mandatory; only data classified as public should be shared

Cloud is Coming

Cloud computing is the delivery of computing technology including servers, storage, databases, networking, software, and analytics over the internet (the “cloud”). Epic, M365 (formerly Office 365), and most of our backup data are already on the cloud. Over the next three years, 80% of CUIMC IT will be on the cloud, leveraging outside vendors to manage our environment. This will provide more flexibility as well as facilitate significantly reduced capital expenditures, enhanced disaster recovery options, and elastic computing and storage. Through the converged cloud infrastructure, security threats like ransomware attacks can be thwarted by hardening our environment more quickly and in a more focused way.

Researchers who need large capacity storage – especially with archive capabilities, or who want to try new and innovative technologies without having to purchase them will be able to do so via the cloud. CUIMC IT is available to consult with individual researchers to help assess computing needs, assist with planning migrations to the cloud, and act as a liaison between CUIMC, the NIH Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) as well as between CUIMC, Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google for issues related to cloud computing.

Website Feature Upgrades

As part of an ongoing effort to enhance the CUIMC IT website, we are implementing changes to the navigation features for improved searchability and user experience:

  • Our Knowledge Base articles now include a list of Related Articles, chosen to help you easily navigate to similar topics or FAQs.  This replaced an “Also in This Category” list that displayed randomly selected articles in the same Knowledge Base category.
    Related Articles highlighted on web page
  • Get Help search results will now display a consolidated list of both Knowledge Base articles and Catalog items (request forms). Users can select “Catalogs” or “Knowledge Bases”on the left to filter it to forms or articles.
    Search results showing Knowledge Articles and Catalog forms

Tips & Tricks

To look at two windows side by side on a Windows computer, you can simultaneously press the Windows key and the left arrow key to “snap” it to the right side of the screen. You can then press the Windows key and the right arrow to snap a different window to the right side of the screen.

Use the mute button when you are not speaking during Zoom meetings. You may not be able to hear your own background noise, but everyone else can!


Please contact cuimcitnewsletter@cumc.columbia.edu with any questions regarding this publication.

Chad Neal
Chief Data Officer
Interim Chief Information Officer
Columbia University Irving Medical Center

Kris R. Bhambhani, MPA
Chief IT Operations Officer
Columbia University Irving Medical Center