Time Security

Accurate time is essential for the trustworthiness of the Internet. Many general security mechanisms, such as the setup of encrypted channels and digital signature creation and verification, depend on accurate time information. Yet, time information on the Internet is not securely communicated because of flawed technical protocols, a dearth of available implementations and services, and insufficient deployment and operational practices.

As part of the Internet Society’s efforts to promote a trustworthy Internet, we will work with the communities of interest, including the open source community and network equipment vendors for the implementation of the network time security mechanisms and associated tools, network operators and enterprises, which will be needed to deploy the technology, the network time community that operates network time services, and operating system developers who incorporate core functionality in all computers and are a critical driver of deployment on the global Internet.

What Will This Project Address?

This project will stimulate the implementation of secure network time protocols, raise awareness to promote adoption, and build capacity to decrease the cost and risk of deployment. We will work with the relevant partner organizations and communities to evolve the time security specifications, encourage multiple interoperable implementations, and support the analysis of performance and security characteristics of these implementations. We will encourage the automated deployment and successful operation of time security mechanisms and best practices. Additionally, we will measure the state of deployment of time security to track its progress.

Our Work in 2020

In 2020:

  • The first implementations of network time security will be operationally deployed.
  • The initial materials to help others in their deployments will be available.
  • In addition, we will establish metrics and an associated measurement infrastructure to track future deployment.
  • Specific metrics will be developed during 2020 to set targets for significant deployment of time security on the Internet by 2025.
events for Time Security
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Time Security News

A New Security Mechanism for the Network Time Protocol
IETF Journal Filler Photo
In the News 31 October 2017

A New Security Mechanism for the Network Time Protocol

IETF Journal
Time Synchronization, Security, and Trust
Time Synchronization, Security, and Trust Thumbnail
Time Security 1 September 2017

Time Synchronization, Security, and Trust

Time is something that is often overlooked or taken for granted, but the accuracy and reliability of time is...

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The Road to Deployment: Network Time Security

Presentation by Karen ‘O’Donoghue at LACNIC 33

IETF BCP 223: Network Time Protocol Best Current Practices

The Network Time Protocol (NTP) is one of the oldest protocols on the Internet and has been widely used since its initial publication.

This document is a collection of best practices for the general operation of NTP servers and clients on the Internet. It includes recommendations for the stable, accurate, and secure operation of NTP infrastructure.

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New Security Mechanisms for Network Time Synchronization Protocols

As evolving security concerns have prevailed, the network time synchronization protocol community has been actively engaged in the development of improved security mechanisms for both the IEEE 1588 Precision Time Protocol (PTP) and the IETF Network Time Protocol (NTP). These activities have matured to the point where this year should see the finalization of the first new security mechanisms for time protocols in ten years.

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