NTP Time Servers - How to Maintain Accuracy and Security
Local Time Servers versus Public Time Servers for Time Synchronisation
Network Time Protocol (NTP) is a network protocol used to synchronise time across devices on a network. A network using NTP relies on a time server to distribute a time signal, which is itself received from an accurate source, such as a GPS satellite. This time server can take the form of either a local time server or a public time server, but public time servers are flawed in a number of areas.
A public time server is a remotely hosted server accessed via an internet connection. These are owned and operated by third parties and made available for public access entirely voluntarily. Local time servers are physical servers installed on your premises, connected to a network by a physical connection.
The first issue with public time servers is reliability. Since they operate entirely out of your control, not only is availability not guaranteed, but should your chosen server go down, you have no recourse to rectify the situation. In addition, public time servers are often accessed by a large number of users, causing congestion which impacts reliability further. Although many devices operating on a physical network could feasibly cause the same issue, local time server systems can use network hierarchy to create additional server strata between the main time server and synchronised devices. This ensures time is maintained accurately.
When using a public time server, a continuous internet connection is required. Should this ever be interrupted, all your devices will lose access to the time signal and immediately begin to drift and lose accuracy. Local time servers aren’t reliant on an internet connection since they function on a physical network. A further advantage is that should a local time server ever lose the satellite signal, such systems are specifically designed to maintain accuracy, even over long periods. Bodet’s Netsilon Time Servers also use peering to further assist with accuracy in this situation, when functioning on the same network strata.
Security can also be an issue with public time servers, since they often require a port to be opened within your firewall. This makes your entire network vulnerable to viruses and other threats. Not only does a local time server sit behind your firewall, Bodet’s Netsilon Time Server actually has its own firewall for additional protection. It also benefits from NTP symmetry keys and SNMP V3 to prevent IP faking and DDOS attacks, and the option of HTTPS for additional privacy.
There can be no doubt that if accurately synchronised time is critical to the operation of your organisation, the only method to consider is a local time server. For this purpose, Bodet have designed the Netsilon Time Server focusing on functionality, accuracy and security, especially for time-critical industries such as Trading Offices, Security Services and Air Traffic Control.
For more information about Bodet’s Netsilon Time Server and how such an NTP solution can be tailored for the specific needs of your organisation, please contact us.