Time synchronisation becomes more and more relevant as we become more dependent on the internet. With so many time sensitive transactions conducted across the globe, from banking and commerce to sending emails, the correct and accurate time is vital in preventing errors and ensuring security.
Increasingly, more and more people are relying on sources of internet time especially with many of the modern flavours of Microsoft’s Windows such as Windows 7 having NTP and time synchronisation abilities already installed.
Windows 7 and Time Synchronisation
Windows 7 will, straight out of the box, attempt to find a source of internet time; however, for a networked machine this does not necessarily mean the computer will be synchronised accurately or securely.
Internet time sources can be wholly unreliable and unsecure for a modern computer network. Internet time has to come through the firewall and as a gap is left for these time codes to come through, malicious software can take advantage of this firewall hole too.
Not only can the accuracy of these devices vary depending on the distance away your network is but also an internet time source very rarely comes direct from an atomic clock.
In fact, most internet time sources are known as stratum 2 devices. This means they connect to another device – a stratum 1 device – namely a NTP time server which gets the time directly from the clock and transmits it to the stratum 2 device.
Stratum 1 NTP time servers
For true accuracy and security, there is no replacement for your network’s own stratum 1 NTP server. Not only are these devices secure, receiving a time source externally to the firewall (often using GPS) but also they receive these signals direct from atomic clocks (The GPS satellite that transmits this signal has an onboard atomic clock that generates the time.