NTP servers are a vital tool for any business that needs to communicate globally and securely. NTP servers distribute Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), the world’s global timescale based on the highly accurate time told by atomic clocks.
NTP (Network Time Protocol) is the protocol used to distribute the UTC time across a network it also ensures all time is accurate and stable. However, there are many pitfalls in setting up a NTP network, here are the most common:
Using the correct time source
Attaining the most suitable time source is fundamental in setting up a NTP network. The time source is going to be distributed amongst all machines and devices on a network so it is vital that it is not only accurate but also stable and secure.
Many system administrators cut corners with a time source. Some will decide to use an Internet based time source although these are not secure as the firewall will require an opening and also many internet sources are either wholly inaccurate or too far away to afford any useful precision.
There are two highly secure methods of receiving a UTC time source. The first is to utilise the GPS network which although doesn’t transmit UTC, GPS time is based on International atomic time and is therefore easy for NTP to convert. GPS time signals are also readily available all over the globe.
The second method is to use the long wave radio signals broadcast by some national physical laboratories. These signals, however, are not available in every country and they have a finite range and are susceptible to interference and local topography.