Timestamping, whether with Zeitgitter or any other mechanism, requires accurate and reliable time sources. Our NTP/NTS servers help provide this information to the public.
Learn more about timestamping, Zeitgitter, the Zeitgitter network, how to use it, and how to join it at zeitgitter.net.
The most accurate form of timekeeping is by atomic clocks. However, not every computer can be equipped with one of those bulky and expensive devices. Therefore, the information from these clocks is transmitted using radio waves (e.g., DCF77 in Central Europe) to inexpensive receivers. The most accurate time information available by radio waves is through Global Navigation Satellite Systems, colloquially termed "GPS", where high-precision time information is the basis for geolocation.
But even these radio wave and "GPS" receivers require space and power. Networked devices today therefore use their Internet connection to obtain pretty accurate time information. This time is transmitted using NTP, the Network Time Protocol and achieves sub-second accuracy, down to roughly millisecond accuracy, depending on network conditions.
NTP was designed in the mid-1980s, when the Internet essentially was a small, friendly, and cooperative space. Therefore, relatively little thought was given how to widely prevent malicious people from manipulating the time other computers on the network will see.
This has only changed recently, with the advent of NTS, Network Time Security. NTS is to NTP pretty much as HTTPS is to HTTP: You can be sure that the information actually comes from the named server and has not been tampered with by anyone controlling Internet equipment or wireless base stations.
Still, you have no guarantee that the other side is not lying to you about its time. But at least you would know, who was lying to you. And you could talk to multiple NTS servers operated by different organisations: it is unlikely that they all will lie to you, and all in the same way.
So, with NTS, you are not completely safe from bad time information, but it would be extremely hard and costly to fake time, such that it will not become obvious and people can be held accountable.
Therefore, Trifence AG operates two free
public NTS/NTP time servers in Switzerland, at
ntp.trifence.ch. These servers can also be used like traditional NTP servers (the
protocol is upward compatible) and are also part of the
global NTP timeservers pool.
Their NTP function, providing mostly accurate but unauthenticated time, can be used like you would any other time server.
To use their additional NTS authentication feature, NTS-capable software
NTS flag, which you can turn on. On the popular
Chrony software, the
configuration is as follows:
server ntp.zeitgitter.net iburst nts server ntp.trifence.ch iburst nts
nts flag at the very end of the line indicates that time
will only be used if it is properly authenticated.
We provide transparency about our timeservers, so you have a basis of
whether you want to trust our time servers. We provide
statistics over the last 24 hours and
over the past week, updated multiple times a day.
They are generated with
A second opinion about our timekeeping is collected by the NTP Pool:
Why two systems?
NTS is a relatively young protocol, with only a small selection of NTS-capable time servers currently available. If you are interested in reliable time, please consider upgrading your existing NTP time server to also support NTS. It would be great if more official timekeeping sites, universities, and companies around the world would join, in addition to volunteers. If you want to learn more, here are some articles with a lot of information many pointers to more resources: