A company’s IT infrastructure can be in critical danger if network clocks don’t agree with each other. Just one of these dangers, which I’ll write about in this article, is data loss. As you’re reading this article, know that there are easy and cost effective solutions.
One way operations can fail is by losing data. Unlike other kinds of breakdowns, however, data loss may go undetected until long after the fact—creating even more damage because people and applications relied on data they were led to believe was accurate. A prime example is a network file system, a network-consolidated resource that keeps track of date and times when files were created, last modified, last accessed, and last archived. If one of the machines in the networks submits a file stamped with a time earlier than the file maintained on the central server, the server may simply assume the file is old and discard it, along with any changes.
Another example is software development. Time stamps are used to indicate which pieces of software program are the latest version—and should therefore become part of the production copy. If (as is often the case) different software modules are written on different machines, it is possible for versions to be listed on the central file system in a chronological sequence other than the one in which they were actually written. That means older modules may be erroneously substituted for newer modules. At best, this means that the production product won’t have the latest features; or worse that the software will simply stop working—or work erratically—
and that programmers might waste weeks looking for bugs that are not really there.
In the next article in this series, I’ll go into detail on security flaws and how organizations keep track of time has a major impact on the overall security of the organization’s IT infrastructure.
Get more information on Microsemi’s timing and synchronization solutions now.
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