With hundreds of companies under investigation in the ongoing stock option backdating scandal and billions in shareholder wealth up in smoke as a result, one would think the seemingly straightforward, inexpensive solution of time servers—computers to track and confirm when an option is granted—would catch on.

It isn’t, say auditors, attorneys, and even time-server makers themselves. The reasons are complicated.

Time servers are computers that gather time accurate to less than a millionth of a second from Global Position System satellites or contain ultra-accurate atomic clocks themselves. Linked to a corporate network, time servers could theoretically be an easy means for ...