WebCitz Blog

The Threat of a “Leap Second”

It is said that every few years, a leap second is added to the end of one day because of the Earth’s rotation. To make up for lost time, a leap year occurs every four years and an extra day is added in February. A leap second works the same way, for example, an extra second will be added to the end of one day which will occur on June 30th of this year. The last leap second that occurred was in 2012 and wreaked havoc to the internet.

Major apps and website were brought down such as Reddit, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon as well as other sites. Qantas, a main Australian airline, actually had their entire computer system down for hours. The reason being that the major software that controls much of the web doesn’t like extra seconds in days.

The code for most web apps is based on a software that traces back to 1970; Unix. The leap second was introduced just two short years later in 1972. Since most of the internet runs on code which is based on a 1970 software that runs on a certain internal clock, adding an extra second can through everything out of control.

For more information on the leap second visit CNN.com.

Super Cookies

It is found that an online privacy features for web browsers can actually be reworked into a “super cookie” that can identify you and your internet behaviors. Cookies are tiny bits of information that are used to identify you to websites. Big web browsers have a “privacy mode” which acts as a clean slate to rid of any cookies that can identify you, for example Google Chrome has “incognito” and Mozilla Firefox has “private windows”. A software developer in London has discovered a string of code that can make these privacy modes basically useless.

The code gets carried over from regular internet sessions to the private mode and let’s websites identify you even through the most private sessions. If you use a regular browser for Facebook and a privacy mode to visit another website and they use the same ad network, then advertisers and Facebook know that the Facebook user and other website viewer is the same person. If you want to stay private and unidentified in privacy mode, there is a workaround. You can delete all cookies each time you launch into a privacy mode or you can use a totally separate browser for all of your privacy mode usage.

Basically, super cookies make it tricky to stay anonymous online. Although this may not be a problem or issue for some user’s, the irony is that the bug known to help identify you in a privacy mode is caused by a feature that is meant to help increase your privacy. For more information on this super cookie, go to CNN.com.