Boot Clock Randomization

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Introduction[edit]

The TimeSync page notes:

Using Boot Clock Randomization, i.e. after boot, the clock is set randomly between 0 and 180 seconds into the past or future. This is useful to enforce the design goal, that the host clock and VM clock should always slightly differ. It is also useful to obfuscate the clock when sdwdate itself is running, because naturally at this time, sdwdate hasn't finished. sdwdate runs after booting.

By randomly moving the system clock a few seconds (and nanseconds) in the past or future during boot, this enforces the design goal of a slightly different host clock and any VMs clock, even before secure timesync has succeeded. This prevents time-based fingerprinting and linkability issues, thereby improving security and privacy. [1]

For technical discussion on the Boot Clock Randomization design, see here. [2]

Log Inspection[edit]

Open file /var/log/bootclockrandomization.log in a text editor of your choice as a regular, non-root user.

If you are using a graphical environment, run.

mousepad /var/log/bootclockrandomization.log

If you are using a terminal, run.

nano /var/log/bootclockrandomization.log

Disable[edit]

Info Disabling of Boot Clock Randomization is discouraged because it is not usually required. However, it may be useful for offline (vault) VMs.

Run the following command. Note:

  • Qubes-Whonix: Use a StandaloneVM or a separate TemplateVM.
  • Non-Qubes-Whonix: No extra steps are required.

sudo systemctl mask bootclockrandomization

Boot Clock Randomization will no longer occur after reboot.

See Also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. https://github.com/Kicksecure/bootclockrandomization
  2. Notably, one recent change is the 0-5 second time window is no longer excluded in the process, as it was found to aid fingerprinting.

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