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Time Security 30 September 2020

Can You Spare a Minute? Network Time Security Featured on The Hedge Podcast

Susannah Gray
By Susannah GrayDirector, Communications

Are you interested in finding out more about Network Time Protocol (NTP), Network Time Security (NTS), and discovering why synchronized time is an essential foundation for online security?

Today is International Podcast Day, so why not spend it listening to the The Hedge Podcast #49: Karen O’Donoghue and Network Time Security.

Network Time Protocol (NTP) is one of the oldest Internet protocols in use. It enables the synchronization of clocks on computer networks to within a few milliseconds of standard universal coordinated time (UTC).  Accurate time is also a critical component for online security, and many security mechanisms, such as Transport Layer Security (TLS) and digital signature creation and verification, depend on accurate timekeeping. 

Updated Mechanism 

NTP’s security mechanisms, however, were designed back in an era when the risk of attack was unlikely. Due to the continued expansion of the Internet, these mechanisms have become outdated. Work has been underway for many years in the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) Network Time Protocol Working Group to develop replacement technology, which will help to secure the Internet’s time synchronization infrastructure well into the future. The result of this work is in the final stages of editing as RFC 8915 Network Time Security for the Network Time Protocol. The current draft is available here.

The Importance of Secure Time  

In this episode of The Hedge Podcast, the Internet Society’s Karen O’Donoghue, Director, Internet Trust and Technology, talks about the need for network time security and the challenges of getting a new protocol developed and deployed. She talks about the everyday functions that require accurate secure time, including financial transactions, electrical power systems, and transportation systems, and she explores the role of the open source community in progressing NTS.

Karen also highlights the key components of the Internet Society’s Time Security project. The project promotes secure time as a key component of a secure and trustworthy Internet and focuses on efforts to improve overall global time security by supporting work to encourage the development, implementation, and deployment of NTS for NTP. 

Find out more about the Internet Society’s Time Security Project!


Image by Jane Carmona via Unsplash

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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