Time Synchronisation | Unsynchronised Clocks: What are the Security Issues?

By on

Unsynchronised clocks are a network security hazard and, believe it or not, time discrepancies can lead to major breaches, causing untold disruption. What are the problems that can arise and how do you maintain time synchronisation? Find out here…

Should you suspect that a hacker has gained access to your network, you would look at your log files to identify any malicious activity, right?

But, what if you discover that your system’s security devices are completely out of sync with each other? Well, you’ve got a problem because time discrepancies mean that all timestamps are inaccurate, making it impossible to correlate log files from various sources.

Without time synchronisation, pinpointing the exact moment of any network security breach is difficult.

Plus, without an accurate time trail, presenting evidence in a court of law attempting to prove malicious activity would be difficult. Not only has your network been hacked, but those responsible are not made accountable.

Unsynchronised clocks can also impact automated tasks. Certain processes, like backups and transaction processing rely on accurate time, but should those processes run out of sequence there will be discrepancies because transaction times will be incorrectly recorded. Inaccurate timestamps equal financial & database program errors.

Time synchronisation at home

Inaccurate clocks can cause just as much trouble on home computers as they can for entire computer networks.

For instance, every email you send is ‘timestamped’ thanks to the local system clock used by your PC. If the timestamp on your email is overly inaccurate chances are that some email servers will deem your sent messages to be spam, especially if the date or time is in the past or future.

So, that important email might end up in the junk folder of the intended recipient.

time synchronisation
‘Every email you send and receive has a time stamp.’

Additionally, a majority of websites that you’re using utilise cookies to retain your logon status. These cookies have a termination time that’s determined by your computer’s clock. An inaccurate clock will see cookies set with an inaccurate expiry time which could result in you being unable to log in.

Time synchronisation neglected

Lapses in time synchronisation are usually a result of neglect, with system and network administrators failing to pay close attention to time discrepancies until it’s too late. It’s not uncommon for time synchronisation of a network to be taken seriously following a security breach.

Networks suffering from inaccurate time issues are often relying on free, internet based, network time servers. Free time servers are maintained by a third party, resulting in network administrators giving them very little attention.

Furthermore, free time servers are extremely vulnerable and prone to security hazards because they operate outside of a firewall. In terms of network security & accurate time, free time servers are a liability rather than an asset.

Unless a user is in ‘the know’ about the disruption an inaccurate clock can cause, home based computers are very rarely synchronised and if they are, again, it’s usually via a free internet based time server.

Time synchronisation solutions

Synchronising a clock, or clocks, is very straightforward. All that is required is a dedicated network time server device.

For large scale computer networks, Galleon Systems’ NTS-6001-GPS NTP server gives you many advantages over a free time server.

Firstly, time is synchronised from behind a firewall, reducing the risk of hacker infiltration, whereas free time servers leave you susceptible to much publicised DDOS attacks.

Time Synchronisation
‘The NTS 6001 GPS NTP Server.’

Secondly, it can synchronise time across thousands of your devices, accurate to the millisecond. There’s minimal risk of time drift, ensuring that all your time sensitive processes are carried out on-time, every time.

Yes, the benefit of a free time server is that it’s free; however, as a long-term solution for accurate time synchronisation they are simply inferior.

For the home computer, the AC-700-MSF time receiver is the perfect companion for time synchronisation on a single PC. It operates from behind your firewall and is an easy-to-install, highly secure time server device.

Again, this device holds many advantages over a free time server, particularly in terms of reliability & time accuracy.

Overall, if network security matters then accurate time synchronisation should be prioritised, especially with an increase in DDoS attacks hitting the headlines.

You can’t put a price on network security, and while a dedicated NTP time server will require an investment, it’s a long term solution for accurate time synchronisation.

The biggest benefit of purchasing a Galleon device is that some solutions come with an industry leading 6 year warranty & all devices come with lifetime support.

Order a Galleon time server now

For virtually instant time synchronisation for your computer network or home PC, get a personalised price from a Galleon representative. There’s a premium range of time server devices to choose from.

So, join over 3,000 customers who benefit from accurate time to improve network security.

Call Galleon now on 0121 608 7230 & speak to a time lord. Alternatively, complete the 60 second contact form and we’ll contact you.

Connect with Galleon Systems

For time synchronisation tricks, tips & news tune into our social media channels. Join the conversation now on Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn.


This post was written by:

A dedicated writer for 10 years, Daniel joined Galleon Systems in 2013. Daniel assists in the production of web copy, articles, blogs, press releases and white papers, for use by Galleon Systems' marketing team. Daniel Waldron on Google+