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Communications of the ACM

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Securing Network Time Protocol


Securing Network Time Protocol, illustrative photo

Credit: Rene Jansa

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In the late 1970s David L. Mills began working on the problem of synchronizing time on networked computers, and Network Time Protocol (NTP) version 1 made its debut in 1980. This was when the Net was a much friendlier place—the ARPANET days. NTP version 2 appeared approximately one year later, about the same time as Computer Science Network (CSNET). National Science Foundation Network (NSFNET) launched in 1986. NTP version 3 showed up in 1993.

Depending on where you draw the line, the Internet became useful in 1991–1992 and fully arrived in 1995. NTP version 4 appeared in 1997. Now, 18 years later, the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) is almost done finalizing the NTP version 4 standard, and some of us are starting to think about NTP version 5.


 

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