The Time Is Now  The Convergence Of Networks, Time Synchronization And Information Security
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The Time Is Now The Convergence Of Networks, Time Synchronization And Information Security



The Time is Now: The Convergence of Networks, Time Synchronization and Information Security. Presentation from RSA Euoper 2008

The Time is Now: The Convergence of Networks, Time Synchronization and Information Security. Presentation from RSA Euoper 2008



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    The Time Is Now  The Convergence Of Networks, Time Synchronization And Information Security The Time Is Now The Convergence Of Networks, Time Synchronization And Information Security Presentation Transcript

    • The Time is Now: The Convergence of Networks, Time Synchronization and Information Security Ben Rothke, CISSP CISA | BT Professional Services | 27/10/08 | Session NET-105
    • About me
      • Senior Security Consultant – BT Professional Services
      • Certifications: CISSP, CISM, PCI QSA, SITA
      • IT sector since 1988 / Information security since 1994
      • Frequent writer and speaker
      • Author of Computer Security: 20 Things Every Employee Should Know (McGraw-Hill 2006)
    • Agenda
      • Session is:
        • An overview of the need for time synchronization
        • Why time synchronization is critical for security software and hardware to run effectively
        • An overview of NTP
      • Session is not:
        • A comprehensive overview of setting up a corporate time synchronization infrastructure
        • How to configure NTP
        • Which time synchronization product to purchase
          • Feel free at any point today to make a correction, share a story, make a comment, etc.
    • Defining Time
      • It is difficult to provide an uncontroversial and clear definition of the nature of time or even what time is.
      • Time can be one of the following:
        • an instance or single occasion for some event
        • a period considered as a resource under your control and sufficient to accomplish something
        • In physics - time is distance divided by velocity
        • Kant defines time as a determinate form in which alone the intuition of inner state is possible and everything which belongs to that inner state is therefore represented in relations of time and space.
        • Song on Dark Side of the Moon - Pink Floyd
    • Doing things on time is universal
      • Nearly every activity requires synchronized time to operate at peak levels:
        • Plane departures
        • Television
        • Sporting events
        • Day trading
        • Job shifts
        • FedEx / DHL / UPS
        • Members of an orchestra
        • Industrial processes
        • Financial markets
        • Point of sale
        • IP telephony
        • Arbitrage
        • Criminal forensics
        • Factories
        • Cooking
        • Medical
        • GPS
        • Traffic signals
        • SWAT Teams
        • EDI
        • Digital forensics
        • Cron jobs / scripts
        • Police / Fire / Emergency Service
        • If we didn't have time, everything would happen all at once.
        • - Hoyt Kesterson
    • Real world examples - Enron
      • Enron CFO and other members of the Enron executive team made it a habit to engage in time-based data manipulation
        • Andrew Fastow and team alter and change financial data to suit whatever it was they wanted the investing public or government authorities to know, or not know.
        • January 2004 - Fastow pleads guilty, sentenced to 10 years
        • Agrees to help prosecutors build a case against former chairman Kenneth Lay and former CEO Jeffrey Skilling
    • More real world examples
      • NextCard
      • Autotote
      • RiteAid
      • Sirena
      • Parmalot
      • Adelphia
      • In all of these cases, effective time synchronization would have provided data integrity assurance of financial reports, grant letters, loan reports, securities transactions, letters of credit and much more.
    • Importance of time synchronization
      • Allows events to occur at the proper time - event synchronization
        • Schedule a process and ensure that it starts or stops on time or runs for a specified period regardless of when it starts or stops
      • Provides proof when events occurred or did not occur - digital forensics
        • Ensure that cooperating processes can interoperate correctly, so that if one process hands a task off to another process, the second process will in fact be ready to accept the handoff
    • Costs / ROI
      • Enterprise-level time servers cost approximately € 2,000 to € 10,000 depending on the level of accuracy required, and if redundancy is needed.
      • Can be installed and running in a few hours
      • Benefits include:
        • reduced downtime
        • prevent operational failure
        • avoid data loss
        • improve security
        • mitigate legal exposure
      • ROI
        • Time services ROI often measured in weeks or months
    • Practical Example
      • Attacker illegally infiltrates your system on Sunday July 9, 2006 between 14:42:39 and 15:21:57
      • Your system logs show that these events occurred starting at 19:49:12
      • Attacker has witnesses stating that he was watching the World Cup Final with them from 18:00 – 22:00
      • Prosecutor won’t take the case as the logs can’t be admitted as evidence
      • “ A snafu such as seriously unsynchronized logs would be regarded by a defense layer as a providential gift ”
        • Ronald Coleman, Esq.
    • Regulatory
      • Time synchronization is being added to numerous regulations and industry standards:
        • 21 CFR Part 11
        • PCI
        • GLBA
        • Sarbanes-Oxley
        • HIPAA
        • ETSI
        • National Emergency Number Association
        • Public Safety Answering Point Master Clock Standard
        • National Fire Protection Association
        • Standard #1221 - Installation, Maintenance and Use of Emergency Services Communication Systems
    • Regulatory – PCI version 1.2 October 2008
      • Section 10.4 - Synchronize all critical system clocks and times.
        • 10.4 Obtain and review the process for acquiring and distributing the correct time within the organization, as well as the time-related system-parameter settings for a sample of system components. Verify the following is included in the process and implemented:
        • 10.4.a Verify that a known, stable version of NTP or similar technology, kept current is used for time synchronization.
        • 10.4.b Verify that internal servers are not all receiving time signals from external sources
        • 10.4.c Verify that specific external hosts are designated from which the timeservers will accept NTP time updates (to prevent a malicious individual from changing the clock).
    • Wrong time adds to conspiracy theories
    • Quiz: What’s the shortest measurable amount of time?
      • Attosecond, nanosecond, femtosecond, yoctosecond, ohnosecond, picosecond, exasecond, zeptosecond, millisecond, petasecond, zettasecond or yottasecond?
      • An ohnosecond
      • Defined as the amount of time between when you realize that you have left your keys in the car and when the door actually locks.
      • Real answer is yoctosecond which is 10 -24 seconds
      • It takes a quark particle a little more than a yoctosecond to circle the proton of an atomic nucleus
    • Absolute vs. Relative Time
      • Since the 17 th century time has been measured astronomically
        • The event of the sun reaching the highest point in the sky is called the transit of the sun
        • The interval between two consecutive transits of the sun is called a solar day
      • In the 1940s, it was established that the earth’s rotation is not constant
        • The earth is spinning slower
        • 300 million years ago were about 400 days per year
    • Absolute vs. Relative Time
      • Relative or astronomic time is based on the earths rotation.
      • Earth’s rotation is not absolute, leap seconds are added to keep UTC synchronized with the astronomical timescale.
      • 1967 - 13th General Conference on Weights and Measures defined the International System unit of time, the second, in terms of atomic, rather than motion of the Earth.
      • Define second as duration of 9,192,631,770 cycles of microwave light absorbed via transition of cesium-133 atoms in their ground state.
    • Universal Coordinated Time (UTC)
      • UTC provides operating systems and applications with a common index to synchronize events and prove that events happened when timestamps state they did.
        • Also known as Zulu time
      • It is a 24-hour clock system and that any given moment, UTC is the same no matter where you are located.
        • Suppose the UTC is now 13:00:00
        • I know the UTC offset for Brussels is +2
        • Therefore, it is 15:00:00 in Brussels
      • Time Scales -
      • UTC really stands for Coordinated Universal Time, but both terms are used.
    • Atomic Clocks
      • Atomic clock was invented in 1948
        • Thousands of worldwide cesium-133 clocks
        • Periodically they are averaged to produce international atomic time (TAI)
        • The Bureau International de l’Heure (BIH) maintains the official clock
        • Accurate to roughly one second every million years
    • UK National Physical Laboratory atomic clock
      • Based on an ensemble of hydrogen masers and caesium atomic clocks.
      • Contributes to international atomic time and provides reference for time and frequency dissemination and monitoring within the UK.
      • Time & Frequency User Club
    • USNO Master Clock
      • Time Service Department has an ensemble of
        • 60 Cesium standards
        • 14 Hydrogen masers
      • Clocks incorporated into International Atomic Time (TAI)
        • Over 11 billion network requests since January 1, 2001
    • International Bureau of Weights and Measures - BIPM
      • Creates two essential elements for time measurement - realization of the unit of time and a continuous temporal reference.
      • Reference used is International Atomic Time (TAI), using data from some 200 atomic clocks in over fifty national laboratories.
      • Long-term stability of TAI is assured by a judicious way of weighting the participating clocks.
      • Scale unit of TAI is kept as close as possible to the SI second by using data from those national laboratories which maintain the best primary caesium standards.
    • Network Time Protocol (NTP)
      • RFC 1305 – NTP - Version 3
      • UDP port 123
      • Accurate to within 10 - 100 milliseconds
      • UDP is an unreliable protocol, but NTP architected to sustain levels of accuracy and robustness; even when used over numerous gateways and delays.
      • In use over 27 years and remains the longest running, continuously operating Internet application protocol.
    • Network Time Protocol (NTP)
      • NTP is only the protocol – not an application
      • Implementing NTP requires separate client and server applications
      • Developed at Univ. of Delaware by David Mills
        • 1985 – version 1 – RFC 1059
        • 1989 – version 2 – RFC 1119
        • 1992 – version 3 – RFC 1305
        • 1997 – version 4 - adds some secure authentication features
        • 2008 – current production version is 4.2.4 – August 2008
        • Download from
    • NTP Time Sources
      • Dedicated NTP server with access to an external UTC time source
        • Stratum-1 GPS-based hardware device
      • Public server with or without direct access to UTC time
        • Internet-based stratum 1,2 or 3
      • Local master clock time source on a local network
        • Set by a local network administrator
    • NTP Design – Step 1
      • Choose your NTP time source
        • Internal – More control, more management
        • External – Less control, less management
      • Time source will impact topology, configuration, and management aspect of the entire NTP infrastructure.
      • Possible time sources include:
          • Dedicated internal stratum-1 hardware appliance
          • Public stratum-1 server
          • Public stratum-2 NTP server
          • Local master
    • NTP Design – Step 1
      • Public vs. Private time servers
      • If your desired accuracy is in:
        • Microseconds – Don’t rely on public time servers. Purchase a stratum-1 primary time server.
        • Milliseconds - you can likely rely on public time servers
        • Seconds - you can rely on public time servers.
      • Public time servers are administered on a voluntary basis and there is no guarantee of server availability, accuracy or security.
        • See
    • NTP Design – Step 1 NTP Time Server Feature Comparison Time Source Availability Accuracy Security Cost Dedicated Server High High High High Public server Medium Medium Low Low Local master High Low High Low
    • NTP Design – Step 2
      • NTP topology at the deployment site
        • Determine the desired level of time accuracy
        • Number of NTP clients
        • Network infrastructure redundancy
        • Network physical topology and geography
          • How are the sites connected?
          • Round trip delays can impact NTP and negatively affect time accuracy
    • NTP Design – Step 3
      • Determine which NTP features to use
        • Basic
        • Security
          • Authentication
          • Access control
        • Redundancy
          • Redundancy between peers
          • Redundancy configuration on clients
    • NTP Design – Step 4
      • Management
      • How much you need to manage your NTP infrastructure is dependant on how important synchronized time is to your organization
        • SNMP
        • Ping
        • Vendor tools
      • Metrics and statistics
        • Averages
        • Clock skew
        • Clock drift
    • Time synchronization checklist
      • Manually ensure that all firewalls, routers, critical servers, etc. have the correct time.
      • Identify all critical network devices in your organization that require accurate time.
      • Appoint a responsible technical staff member to be the time services liaison and to manage time services.
      • Meet with vendors of time synchronization equipment to determine the solution that best fits your organization and specific needs.
      • Advise management of the security risk of non-synchronized time
      • Get management approval for the purchase of time synchronization equipment
      • Ensure that time synchronization is an enterprise policy
    • Network time distribution stratum levels
      • Stratum 0 - Reference clock source
        • NPL, NIST, USNO, GPS
      • Stratum 1 - Primary Time Servers
      • Stratum 2 - Secondary Time Servers; generally application servers, NOS servers, routers
      • Stratum 3 - Workstations, servers, Controlled Timed Device (CTD)
      • Stratum 4- x – Deeper into other workstations, servers, and CTD
    • Corporate policy on time synchronization
      • Time synchronization must be made part of the corporate IT systems and security policies
      • Example:
        • “ Time synchronization to an accurate time source is required on all enterprise network devices”.
      • Without a policy, there will be no impetus for staff to achieve the goal of accurate, synchronized time.
    • GPS as a trusted time source
      • GPS is unique in that it offers a direct, accurate and secure connection from UTC to inside the security of the organization’s network firewall.
      • No WAN or router delays
      • No need to keep NTP port 123 open on the firewall
      • EU and ESA’s Galileo navigation satellite system will be able to provide same services as GPS when it is operational in 2013.
    • Customized architecture
      • Create a clocking architecture that defines the top-level clocking source and all the components in the downstream topology
      • Architecture must accept time and deliver it to the clients and servers within the organization.
      • Backup time servers
      • Support peak loads of time services requests
    • Audit
      • Infrastructure must be able to prove that the time on any monitored system was correctly synchronized at a particular time and date with a specified time source.
      • Often required by industry specific regulations
      • Audit logs must be used within the context of digital forensics.
        • Follow the rules of evidence
    • Automated Computer Time Service (ACTS)
      • ACTS systems requires only a computer, a modem and some simple software.
      • When a computer connects to ACTS by telephone, it receives an ASCII time code.
      • The information in the time code is then used to set the computer's clock.
    • NIST Internet Time Service (ITS)
      • ITS allows you to synchronize computer clocks via the Internet.
      • Time information provided by the service is directly traceable to UTC (NIST).
      • Service responds to time requests from any Internet client in several formats including:
        • DAYTIME - RFC 867 – was used by MS-DOS
        • TIME - RFC 868
        • NTP protocols - RFC 1305
    • Windows Internal Clock
    • Spectracom
      • Model 9283 NetClock/GPS
        • Stratum 1 NTP/SNTP Time Server via GPS
        • Stratum-2 via NTP servers with peering capabilities
        • Oven-stabilized crystal oscillator (OCXO) and Rubidium oscillators maintain time standard if time reference is lost
        • Dial-out modem provides back up to GPS or functions as the primary reference, such as for disaster recovery.
    • Symmetricom
      • SyncServer S250 GPS Network Time Server
        • Stratum 1 Operation via GPS Satellites
        • Stratum 2 Operation via NTP Servers
        • Rubidium option
        • Maintains extremely accurate & reliable time to 50ns
        • Accuracy is +/- 10 microseconds with a load of 5000 packets per second
    • EndRun Technologies
      • Tempus LX GPS Network Time Server
      • Stratum 1 NTP Time Server via GPS
      • High NTP bandwidth capability with an accuracy of under 10 microseconds
      • Oven-stabilized crystal oscillator (OCXO) and Rubidium oscillators maintain time standard if time reference is lost
    • Products
      • Chronos Technology
      • Sematron
      • Bytefusion
      • TimeCertain
    • RFC’s
      • RFC 1305 – NTP - Version 3
      • RFC 3161 - x.509 PKI Time-Stamp Protocol
      • RFC 3628 - Policy Requirements for Time-Stamping Authorities
        • based on ETSI TS-102-023 version 1.1.1 Jan. 2002
      • PTPd (Precision Time protocol)
    • Resources
      • Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB)
      • National Physical Laboratory NPL, UK
      • Royal Observatory
      • Federal Office of Metrology (METAS)
      • Bureau International des Poids et Mesures
    • Resources
      • NTP Home Page
      • David Mills NTP page
      • Computer Network Time Synchronization
      • Digital Signatures are Not Enough
        • Jeff Stapleton/Steve Teppler - ISSA Journal January 2006
      • ISC NTP Public Services Project
    • Books
      • Expert Network Time Protocol: An Experience in Time with NTP - Peter Rybaczyk
      • Computer Network Time Synchronization: The Network Time Protocol - David Mills
      • NTP documentation repository
    • Mailing lists
      • Time-nuts
        • Discussion list on the topic of precise time and frequency measurement and related topics
      • NTP
        • 12 mailing lists of various depth and complexity
    • Conclusions
      • Need for synchronized time is a crucial business and technology need.
      • Synchronized time is an integral part of an effective network and security architecture.
      • Information security hardware and software is highly dependent on synchronized time.
      • Ensuring accurate time is relatively inexpensive and offers a significant ROI.
    • Thank you for attending
      • Any questions? comments?
      • Please remember to fill out your comments form
      • Ben Rothke, CISSP, QSA
      • Senior Security Consultant
      • BT Professional Services –
      • New York, NY USA
      • [email_address]