Posts Tagged ‘ntp servers’

How to install OpenNTPD NTP server to synchronize system clock on FreeBSD for better security

Sunday, February 12th, 2012

Reading Time: 4 minutes

FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and Linux ntpd alternative server to synchronize server system time

Lately I've been researching on ntpd and wrote a two articles on how to install ntpd on CentOS, Fedora and how to install ntpd on FreeBSD and during my research on ntpd, I've come across OpenNTPD and decided to give it a go on my FreeBSD home router.
OpenBSD project is well known for it is high security standards and historically has passed the test of time for being a extraordinary secure UNIX like free operating system.
OpenBSD is developed in parallel with FreeBSD, however the development model of the two free operating systems are way different.

As a part of the OpenBSD to be independant in its basis of software from other free operating systems like GNU / Linux and FreeBSD. They develop the all around free software realm known OpenSSH. Along with OpenSSH, one interesting project developed for the main purpose of OpenBSD is OpenNTPD.

Here is how openntpd.org describes OpenNTPD:

"a FREE, easy to use implementation of the Network Time Protocol. It provides the ability to sync the local clock to remote NTP servers and can act as NTP server itself, redistributing the local clock."

OpenNTPD's accent just like OpenBSD's accent is security and hence for FreeBSD installs which targets security openntpd might be a good choice. Besides that the so popular classical ntpd has been well known for being historically "insecure", remote exploits for it has been released already at numerous times.

Another reason for someone to choose run openntpd instead of ntpd is its great simplicity. openntpd configuration is super simple.

Here are the steps I followed to have openntpd time server synchronize clock on my system using other public accessible openntpd servers on the internet.

1. Install openntpd through pkg_add -vr openntpd or via ports tree

a) For binar install with pkg_add issue:

freebsd# pkg_add -vr openntpd
...

b) if you prefer to compile it from source

freebsd# cd /usr/ports/net/openntpd
freebsd# make install clean
...

2. Enable OpenNTPD to start on system boot:

freebsd# echo 'openntpd_enable="YES"' >> /etc/rc.conf

3. Create openntpd ntpd.conf configuration file

There is a default sample ntpd.conf configuration which can be straight use as a conf basis:

freebsd# cp -rpf /usr/local/share/examples/openntpd/ntpd.conf /usr/local/etc/ntpd.conf

Default ntpd.conf works just fine without any modifications, if however there is a requirement the openntpd server to listen and accept time synchronization requests from only certain hosts add to conf something like:

listen on 192.168.1.2
listen on 192.168.1.3
listen on 2607:f0d0:3001:0009:0000:0000:0000:0001
listen on 127.0.0.1

This configuration will enable only 192.168.1.2 and 192.168.1.3 IPv4 addresses as well as the IPv6 2607:f0d0:3001:0009:0000:0000:0000:0001 IP to communicate with openntpd.

4. Start OpenNTPD service

freebsd# /usr/local/etc/rc.d/openntpd

5. Verify if openntpd is up and running

freebsd# ps axuww|grep -i ntp
root 31695 0.0 0.1 3188 1060 ?? Ss 11:26PM 0:00.00 ntpd: [priv] (ntpd)
_ntp 31696 0.0 0.1 3188 1140 ?? S 11:26PM 0:00.00 ntpd: ntp engine (ntpd)
_ntp 31697 0.0 0.1 3188 1088 ?? S 11:26PM 0:00.00 ntpd: dns engine (ntpd)
root 31700 0.0 0.1 3336 1192 p2 S+ 11:26PM 0:00.00 grep -i ntp

Its also good idea to check if openntpd has succesfully established connection with its peer remote openntpd time servers. This is necessery to make sure pf / ipfw firewall rules are not preventing connection to remote 123 UDP port:

freebsd# sockstat -4 -p 123
USER COMMAND PID FD PROTO LOCAL ADDRESS FOREIGN ADDRESS
_ntp ntpd 31696 4 udp4 83.228.93.76:54555 212.70.148.15:123
_ntp ntpd 31696 6 udp4 83.228.93.76:56666 195.69.120.36:123
_ntp ntpd 31696 8 udp4 83.228.93.76:49976 217.75.140.188:123

By default openntpd is also listening to IPv6 if IPv6 support is enabled in freebsd kernel.

6. Resolve openntpd firewall filtering issues

If there is a pf firewall blocking UDP requests to in/out port 123 within /etc/pf.conf rule like:

block in log on $EXT_NIC proto udp all

Before the blocking rule you will have to add pf rules:

# Ipv4 Open outgoing port TCP 123 (NTP)
pass out on $EXT_NIC proto tcp to any port ntp
# Ipv6 Open outgoing port TCP 123 (NTP)
pass out on $EXT_NIC inet6 proto tcp to any port ntp
# Ipv4 Open outgoing port UDP 123 (NTP)
pass out on $EXT_NIC proto udp to any port ntp
# Ipv6 Open outgoing port UDP 123 (NTP)
pass out on $EXT_NIC inet6 proto udp to any port ntp

where $EXT_NIC is defined to be equal to the external lan NIC interface, for example:
EXT_NIC="ml0"

Afterwards to load the new pf.conf rules firewall has to be flushed and reloaded:

freebsd# /sbin/pfctl -f /etc/pf.conf -d
...
freebsd# /sbin/pfctl -f /etc/pf.conf -e
...

In conclusion openntpd should be more secure than regular ntpd and in many cases is probably a better choice.
Anyhow bear in mind on FreeBSD openntpd is not part of the freebsd world and therefore security updates will not be issued directly by the freebsd dev team, but you will have to regularly update with the latest version provided from the bsd ports to make sure openntpd is 100% secure.

For anyone looking for more precise system clock synchronization and not so focused on security ntpd might be still a better choice. The OpenNTPD's official page states it is designed to reach reasonable time accuracy, but is not after the last microseconds.
 

How to configure NTP server (ntpd) to synchronize server clock over the Internet on FreeBSD

Friday, February 10th, 2012

Reading Time: 4 minutes

 

FreeBSD ntpd logo / How to configure ntpd to synchronize with internet time servers on FreeBSD

On FreeBSD ntpd , ntpdc , ntpdate , ntpq doesn't need to be installed via a specific package like on GNU/Linux as they're part of the FreeBSD world (binary standardly shipped with FreeBSD basis system).

The FreeBSD handbook has a chapter explaining thoroughfully on ntp on FreeBSD ,however for the lazy ones here is a short few steps tutorial on how to install and configure ntpd on bsd :

1. Copy sample ntp.conf file to /etc/

freebsd# cp -rpf /usr/src/etc/ntp.conf /etc/ntp/

No need for any modifications if you don't want to apply some specific restrictions on whom can access the ntpd server. If you update regularly the FreeBSD system with freebsd-update or directly by rebuilding the FreeBSD kernel / world adding restrictions might be not necessery..

If you check /usr/src/etc/ntp.conf you will notice freebsd project people are running their own ntp servers , by default ntpd will use this servers to fetch timing information. The exact server hosts which as of time of writting are used can be seen in ntp.conf and are:

server 0.freebsd.pool.ntp.org iburst maxpoll 9
server 1.freebsd.pool.ntp.org iburst maxpoll 9
server 2.freebsd.pool.ntp.org iburst maxpoll 9

2. Add ntpd daemon to load on system boot via /etc/rc.conf

By default ntpd is disabled on FreeBSD, you can see if it is disabled or enabled by invoking:

freebsd# /etc/rc.d/ntpd rcvar
# ntpd
ntpd_enable=NO

To Enable ntpd to get loaded each time it boots , following 3 lines has to be added in /etc/rc.conf .

ntpdate_enable="YES"
ntpdate_flags="europe.pool.ntp.org"
ntpd_enable="YES"

Quick way to add them is to use echo :

echo 'ntpdate_enable="YES" >> /etc/rc.conf
echo 'ntpdate_flags="europe.pool.ntp.org" >> /etc/rc.conf
echo 'ntpd_enable="YES" >> /etc/rc.conf

Now as the 3 rc.conf vars are set to "YES", the ntpd can be started. Without having this variables in /etc/rc.conf , "/etc/rc.d/ntpd start" will refuse to start ntpd.

3. Start the ntpd service

freebsd# /etc/rc.d/ntpd start
...

One interesting note to make is ntpd can also operate without specifying any config file (/etc/ntp.conf), the only requirement for the server to start is to have a properly set ntpdate server, like lets say (ntpdate_flags="europe.pool.ntp.org")

4. Permit only certain host or localhost to "talk" to the ntpd server

If you want to imply some ntp server restrictions, the configuration directives are same like on Linux:

To allow only a a host inside a local network with IP 192.168.0.2 as well as localhost, to be able to fetch time information via ntpd server put inside /etc/ntp.conf:

restrict 127.0.0.1
restrict 192.168.0.1 mask 255.255.255.0 nomodify notrap

If you want to prohibit ntpd to serve as a Network Time Server, to any other host except localhost, add in /etc/ntp.conf :

restrict default ignore

Allowing and denying certain hosts can be also done on pf (packet filter) or ipfw firewall level, and in my view is easier (and less confusing), than adding restrictions through ntp.conf. Besides that using directly the server firewall to apply restrictions is more secure. If for instance a remote exploit vulnerability is discovered affecting your ntpd server. this will not affect you externally as access to the UDP port 123 will be disabled on a firewall level.
Something good to mention is NTP servers communicate between each other using the UDP source/destination (port 123). Hence if the NTPD server has to be publicly accessible and there is a firewall already implemented, access to source/dest port 123 should be included in the configured firewall …

5. Check if the ntp server is running properly / ntp server query operations

[root@pcfreak /home/hipo]# ps axuww|grep -i ntp
root 15647 0.0 0.2 4672 1848 ?? Ss 2:49PM 0:00.04 /usr/sbin/ntpd -c /etc/ntp.conf -p /var/run/ntpd.pid -f /var/db/ntpd.drift

To query the now running ntpd server as well as set various configuration options "on the fly" (e.g. without need for ntp.conf edits and init script restart), a tool called ntpdc exists. ntpdc tool could be used to connect to localhost running ntpd as well as to connect and manage remotely a ntpd server.
The most basic use of ntpdc is to check (server peers).:
freebsd# ntpdc localhost
ntpdc> peers
remote local st poll reach delay offset disp
===================================================

kgb.comnet.bg 83.228.93.76 2 64 377 0.00282 -0.050575 0.06059
*billing.easy-la 83.228.93.76 2 64 377 0.01068 -0.057400 0.06770
=ns2.novatelbg.n 83.228.93.76 2 64 377 0.01001 -0.055290 0.06058

ntpdc has also a non-interactive interface, handy if there is a need for requests to a ntpd to be scripted. To check ntpd server peers non-interactively:

freebsd# ntpdc -p localhost
===================================================
kgb.comnet.bg 83.228.93.76 2 64 377 0.00284 -0.043157 0.06184
=billing.easy-la 83.228.93.76 2 64 377 0.01059 -0.042648 0.05811
*ns2.novatelbg.n 83.228.93.76 2 64 377 0.00996 -0.041097 0.06094

ntpdc has plenty of other ntpd query options, e.g. :

ntpdc> help
ntpdc commands:
addpeer controlkey fudge keytype quit timeout
addrefclock ctlstats help listpeers readkeys timerstats
addserver debug host loopinfo requestkey traps
addtrap delay hostnames memstats reset trustedkey
authinfo delrestrict ifreload monlist reslist unconfig
broadcast disable ifstats passwd restrict unrestrict
clkbug dmpeers iostats peers showpeer untrustedkey
clockstat enable kerninfo preset sysinfo version
clrtrap exit keyid pstats sysstats

ntpdc is an advanced query tool for ntpd , servers. Another tool exists called ntpq which syntax is almost identical to ntpdc . The main difference between the two is ntpq is a monitoring tool mostly used just for monitoring purposes, where ntpdc can also change plenty of things in the server configuration.

For people who want to learn more on ntpd the man page is a great reading , containing chapters describing thoroughfully exactly how NTPD time servers operate, etc.