How to Encrypt an Email Using AKO

By Chris Daniels

Army Knowledge Online (AKO) is the U.S. Army's secure email exchange system. AKO allows secure messages and documents to be passed between the military, contractors and federal officials using credentialed Common Access Cards, or CACs. To set your business computer up to send encrypted AKO email, you need to obtain a CAC card reader and install the necessary drivers.

Purchase a CAC card reader and install it in your computer. CAC readers usually connect via a USB port.

Obtain security clearance and a CAC card issued by the Department of Defense. When you receive your CAC card, insert it into the reader connected to your computer to verify your identity.

Download and install the required drivers, software and certificates as outlined on the Military CAC website (link in Resources). Follow current instructions for your system configuration.

Insert your CAC card into the card reader with the side containing your ID picture facing upward.

Log in to the AKO system with your verified credentials using the downloaded software.

Click on the "Options" menu, select the "Mail" submenu, and then click on the "Settings" menu to bring up a page of mail settings, including encryption options. Check the options to sign and encrypt all outgoing messages. Select your secure DOD certificate to sign your messages, verifying they were sent by you.

Compose an email and make sure that the option to encrypt the message is selected before you send it. The message is encrypted using your digital identity in your CAC card and decrypted using the information in your recipient's CAC card.


Maintain possession of your CAC card at all times.