YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — All U.S. Forces Korea personnel face an upcoming deadline to ensure they’re able to use their identification cards on military computer networks.

By Oct. 1, all personnel will be required to use their Common Access Cards — and the personal identification number associated with each card — to access the systems and send e-mail. One of the card’s main features is a small, gold-colored computer chip that would create a distinct “digital signature” for all mail sent from a particular terminal.

But because few card-holders have had to use their PIN numbers, they may not remember the code, officials said.

“Everyone will be required to send digitally signed messages from their CAC card. The only way users can do this is to use their PIN number on their CAC,” said 2nd Lt. Brian Wong, officer in charge of the Area II Information Center, run by the 1st Signal Brigade.

“Since 95 percent of the users have had no need in the past to use their CAC for network purposes and e-mail, the vast majority have forgotten what their PIN number is.”

To help counter that problem, signal officials have set up workstations designed specifically for soldiers and civilians to come and reset their PINs. Two of those areas are at the 201st Signal Company on Yongsan Garrison.

The requirements also apply to Korean civilian employees whose jobs require them to send official e-mail or who work with specialized software, according to information management officials.

Originally, the new cards were used only for identification. But officials hope troops eventually will be able use them to store records, check into new units and even as a meal card. The computer chips already contain such information as a card-holder’s name, gender, benefits category and blood type.

According to a U.S. Forces Korea memorandum setting the Oct. 1 deadline, the CAC helps “establish an aggressive program to enhance the security of DOD information transmission against theft, alteration and other cyber-exploitation.”

In other words, the cards can provide additional network security for military systems, Wong said.

“It will prevent unintended disclosure of information to the public,” he said.

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