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Network Server Time – Election time reference

There are hundreds of Internet sources that allow synchronization based on computers running NTP to synchronized to a UTC time – however, there are several drawbacks in relying on the Internet for a timing reference:

Security is paramount for most computer networks and NTP, one of the oldest Internet protocols, is equipped with its own security measures in the form of authentication. Authentication verifies that each timestamp has come from the time reference provided by the analysis of a set of agreed encryption keys that are sent along with information synchronization.

Unfortunately, Internet time sources can not be authenticated Novell and Microsoft, and others "strongly recommends" that the sources Internet is not used for a timing reference, and that could leave a network vulnerable and open to hackers, viruses or even a DDoS attack (Distributed Denial of Service – where a server is inundated with traffic rendering it useless).

Also a study by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) more than 900 Internet time, discovered nearly half were offset by over ten seconds (one by a staggering six years – but luckily there were no many peers) and less than a third of which is described as all "useful."

The report also found that many Internet hosts time reference were too far from their companions to any precise time synchronization takes place.
Fortunately, a dedicated network time NTP server can receive other sources of UTC time which do not offer complete security authentication, and are much more accurate and reliable.

The first is the time national emissions and the frequency transmitted by several countries. In the U.S. the signal is known as WWVB and is broadcast by NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) in Colorado. In the UK National Physical Laboratory (NPL) broadcasts the MSF signal from Cumbria and similar systems are broadcast in Germany (DCF-77), Japan (JJY) and France (TDF).
Another, equally accurate and secure method is to use time signals from the American GPS (Global Positioning System).

The GPS system is currently the only global satellite navigation, though Galileo in Europe and the Russian GLONASS system are expected to be operational over the next five years.

Is a consequence of the need for accurate weather information to the pinpoint placement that the GPS satellites contain an atomic clocks and the signal is emitted may be received and used by a network time server.

About the Author

Richard N Williams is a technical author and specialist in atomic clocks, telecommunications, NTP and network time synchronisation helping to develop dedicated NTP clocks. Please visit us for more information about a network time server or other ntp server solutions.

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