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6.3 Time synchronization ToC Previous Next

All SecurityProtocols require that system clocks on communicating machines be reasonably synchronized in order to check the expiry times for Certificates or Messages. The amount of clock skew that can be tolerated depends on the system security requirements and applications shall allow administrators to configure the acceptable clock skew when verifying times. A suitable default value is 5 minutes.

The Network Time Protocol (NTP) provides a standard way to synchronize a machine clock with a time server on the network. Systems running on a machine with a full featured operating system like Windows or Linux will already support NTP or an equivalent. Devices running embedded operating systems should support NTP.

If a device operating system cannot practically support NTP then an OPC UA application can use the Timestamps in the ResponseHeader (see OPC 10000-4) to synchronize its clock. In this scenario, the OPC UA application will have to know the URL for a Discovery Server on a machine known to have the correct time. The OPC UA application or a separate background utility would call the FindServers Service and set its clock to the time specified in the ResponseHeader. This process will need to be repeated periodically because clocks can drift over time.

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