17.6. Authentication Options for NTP

NTPv4 NTPv4 added support for the Autokey Security Architecture, which is based on public asymmetric cryptography while retaining support for symmetric key cryptography. The Autokey protocol is described in RFC 5906 Network Time Protocol Version 4: Autokey Specification. Unfortunately, it was found later that the protocol has serious security issues, and thus Red Hat strongly recommends to use symmetric keys instead. The man page ntp_auth(5) describes the authentication options and commands for ntpd.
An attacker on the network can attempt to disrupt a service by sending NTP packets with incorrect time information. On systems using the public pool of NTP servers, this risk is mitigated by having more than three NTP servers in the list of public NTP servers in /etc/ntp.conf. If only one time source is compromised or spoofed, ntpd will ignore that source. You should conduct a risk assessment and consider the impact of incorrect time on your applications and organization. If you have internal time sources you should consider steps to protect the network over which the NTP packets are distributed. If you conduct a risk assessment and conclude that the risk is acceptable, and the impact to your applications minimal, then you can choose not to use authentication.
The broadcast and multicast modes require authentication by default. If you have decided to trust the network then you can disable authentication by using disable auth directive in the ntp.conf file. Alternatively, authentication needs to be configured by using SHA1 or MD5 symmetric keys, or by public (asymmetric) key cryptography using the Autokey scheme. The Autokey scheme for asymmetric cryptography is explained in the ntp_auth(8) man page and the generation of keys is explained in ntp-keygen(8). To implement symmetric key cryptography, see Section 17.17.12, “Configuring Symmetric Authentication Using a Key” for an explanation of the key option.