Rot at the roots? Examining public timing infrastructure

Publication Type:
Conference Proceeding
Citation:
Proceedings of the The 35th Annual IEEE International Conference on Computer Communications, IEEE INFOCOM 2016, 2016
Issue Date:
2016-07-27
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© 2016 IEEE.Timekeeping is central to network measurement. In typical systems, its accuracy is ultimately dependent on the forest of timeservers accessible over the network, whose roots are the stratum-1 timeservers, which benefit from reference hardware. It is essential that these servers are accurate and reliable, and it is commonly assumed that this is the case. We put this belief to the test through an examination of around 100 publicly accessible stratum-1 servers, using datasets spanning over 3 years, collected in a testbed with reference timestamping. We develop a methodology capable of disambiguating the effects of routing changes, congestion related variability, and server anomalies on timestamps. We use it to make a first assessment of the health of (public) network timing, by reporting on the type, severity, and frequency of anomalies we encounter.
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