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Security changes coming to AggieNetwork.com, email

The Association of Former Students November 17, 2023 9:50 AM updated: February 9, 2024 10:51 AM

Online security is constantly evolving and necessitates enhancements for trusted websites. As The Association of Former Students is entrusted with the data of more than 500,000 current and former students, it is an utmost priority to take the best measures to maintain online security. As such, two changes will be implemented in early 2024:

  • Personal @AggieNetwork.com email accounts will be closed.
  • The implementation of a new authentication system will require all users who have an AggieNetwork.com account to reregister.

AggieNetwork.com email accounts


Important Notes:

  • @AggieNetwork.com Google accounts will be permanently disabled on March 31, 2024. This includes the entire account and will affect all Google services attached to the account including email and Google Photos.
  • A technical FAQ and a guide for using Google Takeout have been added to the email management page to assist users with the most common issues encountered when transferring data to a new account.
  • A general FAQ has been added below to provide more context and understanding into why this difficult decision had to be made. This FAQ will continue to be updated as needed.
  • For further questions and concerns, please reach out to Email@AggieNetwork.com.


We have been grateful for the opportunity to provide AggieNetwork.com email accounts as a service to our former students and our hope was to continue this in perpetuity.
Unfortunately, due to Google’s continued changes to its Workspace for Education program, the prohibitive costs and logistics in maintaining a program, and based on security recommendations from industry professionals within and outside the Aggie Network, we concluded that there were no viable options other than to sunset the program.   
 

Anyone with a personal @AggieNetwork.com email account will need to save any emails and files they wish to keep, and update various accounts on which the personal AggieNetwork.com email account is registered with a new email address to prevent any gaps in service, by March 31, 2024, when @AggieNetwork.com accounts will be deleted. 

We understand the inconvenience this can present to so many of our users and worked to start communicating the update as soon as we knew that continuing the program was not a viable option and as much in advance of March 31, 2024, as possible. To ensure that we get the word out to those affected by this change, we will be rolling out a number of communications across multiple channels over the course of the next few months. 

We will follow this up with additional announcements on other channels, as well as direct notifications to individual users. 

As we all transition through this process, we thank you for your patience and understanding and appreciate your help in spreading the word to others who may be affected. In the meantime, we will strive to make this process as easy as possible for our users. 

To manage your @AggieNetwork.com email account, including changing your password, please visit https://tx.ag/MyEmail.

You can learn about Google’s recommended procedures for removing content from your account at https://takeout.google.com/ and https://takeout.google.com/transfer.

 

@AggieNetwork.com Email Sunset Frequently Asked Questions


Why is the @AggieNetwork.com email program ending?

As mentioned in the announcement email, the two primary issues are cost and security. In our efforts to keep this program going we looked at all possible solutions and replacements. At the end of the day, all of these were either too financially prohibitive, not logistically feasible, or would not satisfy security concerns and threats.


What would it cost to keep the program going?

If we were to stay with Google, this program would go from a $0 line item to one that would cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars per year to maintain. And that number would only grow as new users continued to come online. Further, Google’s terms specifically prohibit us from passing on any incurred costs, in part or whole, to our users. Staying with Google was simply not an option.

Other options for a full email program would cost just as much, and in some cases many degrees more.

The Association of Former Students is a nonprofit and time and resources are precious to us. A big part of the decision came down to good stewardship of our donor dollars. Money to keep an email program going is money that would be taken away from scholarships, student activities, former student programming, and traditions such as Aggie Muster, Aggie Ring Day, and Silver Taps.


If Texas A&M can afford tens of millions of dollars to buy out fired coaches, why can’t it afford an alumni email program?

The Association of Former Students is an independent nonprofit. We receive no funding from Texas A&M and we are not involved in Texas A&M Athletics decisions or finances. None of our donor dollars go to pay for athletics staff, including recent buyouts of coaches.


Why can’t you just allow the addresses to be forwarding addresses?

We did look into continuing to offer email forwarding, however doing so with @AggieNetwork.com addresses would not have resolved the ongoing security threats that this program poses.

If we were able to continue to offer email forwarding, it would have to be on another domain. Existing @AggieNetwork.com addresses would still have to be decommissioned and would not be allowed to forward to the new domain.

This means that users would still be in the exact same position they are today, having to move everything over to a new, non-@AggieNetwork.com address.


What are the specific security threats?

Online security best practices prevent organizations from publicly sharing security threats, and so we won’t.

However, as mentioned in the announcement email, in our examination of this program we engaged with security professionals in our building, and within and outside of the Aggie Network. We were told by all that the existence of this program is a continued threat to The Association of Former Students and all who engage with us.

These threats are tangible and not just to reputation or liability.

Security incidents with this program have increased in frequency year over year. Today’s cybersecurity landscape is much different than it was when this program started more than 20 years ago.

And any time and resources that we allocate to addressing incidents prevent time and resources from being focused on our core mission of helping Texas A&M and Texas Aggies.


Didn’t you promise this would be a “lifetime” address?

When we first started offering “lifetime” email addresses to Aggies, we meant that in good faith. However, in the past 20 years circumstances have changed and, as described above, it is no longer financially or logistically feasible for the program to continue.

When we began offering this program, we didn’t allow for the certainty that the internet is ever changing, something now widely accepted as part of its very fabric. We did not foresee Google changing its terms to the point that continuing the program would be financially prohibitive. In addition, the online security landscape today is dramatically different from that of this program’s inception, demanding change. This is not a position we ever wanted to be in, nor one in which we ever wanted to put our users and we regret today’s circumstances that have forced us into this position.


Please reach out to us at Email@AggieNetwork.com with any additional questions or concerns. 



Correspondence Archive

Copies of correspondence sent to @AggieNetwork.com account holders will be collected below:

February 8, 2024

Howdy,

This is a reminder that the @AggieNetwork.com email program is ending and accounts will be permanently disabled on March 31, 2024.

To assist users with transitioning their information to new accounts, we have added a technical FAQ as well as a guide for using Google Takeout to the email management page. 

When logged into your AggieNetwork.com website account, you can find those items here: https://AggieNetwork.com/Email.

Additionally, we would like to apologize. When we first communicated about this decision we focused on details and did not take the time to acknowledge the emotional stress that this decision would surely cause many of our users.

That was a mistake. 

We understand the full gravity of this and are completely empathetic with our users. We know this is inconvenient and a tremendous hassle to have to take the time to move everything over to new accounts. Many of your fellow Aggies in the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center have personal email addresses and are not able to keep those either. We are all feeling it.

This was a decision that was agonized over and not reached lightly. Unfortunately, the circumstances forced us into this situation. It is deeply unfortunate and not a position we ever foresaw being in, nor one in which we ever wanted to put our users. 

In addition to the resources mentioned above, we have also created an FAQ that will hopefully give more context and understanding into why this decision had to be made. 

You can find that FAQ here: https://tx.ag/EmailSunsetFAQ.

If you have additional questions or concerns, please reach out to Email@AggieNetwork.com.

In the Aggie Spirit,

The Association of Former Students

 

 

December 13, 2023

Howdy,

Over the past few years, Google has continued to make changes to its Workspace for Education program, under which @AggieNetwork.com accounts exist. Previously, these changes necessitated removing Google Drive and other features from @AggieNetwork.com accounts.

Given these ongoing changes and after an extensive evaluation of the long-term viability of the @AggieNetwork.com email program, which included evaluating potential replacements and consulting with security professionals, we have made the difficult decision to sunset this program.

**********************************************************************************************************

The @AggieNetwork.com email service will be permanently disabled on March 31, 2024.
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Anyone with a personal @AggieNetwork.com email account will need to save any emails and files they wish to keep, and update various accounts on which the personal @AggieNetwork.com email account is registered with a new email address to prevent any gaps in service, by March 31, 2024, when @AggieNetwork.com accounts will be deleted.

This does not impact official @AggieNetwork.com accounts for A&M Clubs, Classes, or Constituent Networks at this time.

Over the next three and a half months, we will continue to communicate the urgency of saving/transferring emails and content through communications like this one, on AggieNetwork.com, our social channels, and other relevant places.

We understand the inconvenience this presents to so many of our users. As we all transition through this process, we thank you for your patience and understanding and appreciate your help in spreading the word to others who may be affected. In the meantime, we will strive to make this process as seamless as possible for our users.

To manage your @AggieNetwork.com email account, including changing your password, please visit https://tx.ag/MyEmail.

To follow all updates regarding the sunsetting of this program, please visit https://tx.ag/EmailSunset.

Learn about Google’s recommended procedures for removing content from your account at https://takeout.google.com/ and https://takeout.google.com/transfer.

Reach out to Email@AggieNetwork.com with any additional questions or concerns.

 

In the Aggie Spirit,

The Association of Former Students

 

Single sign-on

Authentication for users of AggieNetwork.com will change in early 2024 to single sign-on. This will make a user’s account more secure, improve user experience, and allow for an expansion of services down the road. You will only need to take this step once, the first time you access AggieNetwork.com once the change is enacted. Instructions on how to reregister will be shared in early 2024.



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