Essay: Though for a computer operator, a computer clock being display by the operating system is just another clock which gives out time, the physical clock present on the system board has much more utility than it is visible to a computer user. It is important to have a clock that gives accurate system because time is used in many of the computer activities that are important to computer forensics. It makes it much easier to investigate incidents on multiple computers if the time stamps on the logs and files are accurate and are synchronized. Also, financial organizations rely heavily on accurate timekeeping for their transactions while many authentication systems, such as Kerberos, implement access control to systems and resources with the help of dated tickets. Ordinary computers clocks are not accurate at all. This is because of the reasons that these clocks, like most electronic clocks, rely on the detection of oscillations of a quartz crystal and used them as a reference to calculate the passing time.
However, the oscillation of these quartz crystal vary largely with the change in temperature of the CPU, hence the clock time begins to wander off. Furthermore, in a UNIX environment, time calculation is based on the interrupts which are generated by the clock. However, since the processing of these interrupts cannot be prompt all the time, it causes the clock in UNIX to lose time. Though these changes are small, however, with the passage of time, can become significant and hence cause significant glitches in system and processes that uses time to process information. In order to deal with this issue, researchers have worked on a number of solutions, one of them being synchronization of clocks over TCP/IP or other network protocols. One of such solutions is Network Time Protocol (NTP), which provides the notion of server’s time in format that is readable by other computers, with the help of Internet Control Message Protocol (ICMP) time message (Vacca, 2005).
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