An efficient and error free operation is the goal of any administrator that is setting up a computer network. Ensuring the smooth running and passing of data without errors or loss of connections is a prerequisite for any decent functioning network system.
There are some fundamental things that can be carried out to minimise risk of encountering problems further down the line. A decent network server is a must, as is an efficient router but there is one piece of technology often overlooked in computer networking – the network time server.
The importance of correct computer network time only becomes apparent when something goes wrong. When an error does occur (and without adequate time synchronization it is a matter of when not if) it can be next to impossible to pin down what caused in and where. Just imagine all the error logs on the different machines all with timestamps telling a different time, finding out where and when the error occurred can be near impossible – and that’s before you can even get round to fixing it.
Fortunately most network administrators appreciate the value of synchronization and most ensure the network receives a time signal from across the Internet. However, many administrators are unaware of the vulnerabilities this may cause throughout the network.
By using an online time server, a UDP port (123) needs be kept open which can be an open gate to malicious programs and users. Furthermore, there is no authentication of the online time server so the signal could be hijacked or just be inaccurate.
A dedicated network time server running the protocol NTP (Network Time Protocol) will operate externally to the network and receive the time from an atomic clock source directly (through radio or GPS) making NTP servers, secure, accurate and reliable.