What You Need to Know About the Upcoming Leap Second

Pronamika Abraham

Last updated on: June 3, 2020

The U.S. Naval Observatory announced on July 6, 2016 that a leap second will be added to official timekeeping on December 31, 2016 at 23 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).  This corresponds to 6:59:59 pm Eastern Standard Time, when the extra second will be inserted at the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Master Clock Facility in Washington, DC.

Qualys has completed our assessment of the Qualys Cloud Platform and its sensors (scanners), and we do not expect any impact or adverse effect.  In the time since Qualys was founded in 1999, there have been leap seconds in 2005, 2008, 2012 and 2015, all with no reported impact to Qualys systems or customers.

About Leap Seconds

Due to unpredictable irregularities in the Earth’s rotation, it is possible for a difference in astronomical and atomic time to occur. When that difference of exceeds 0.9 of a second, the IERS calls for a leap second to be added (positive) or subtracted (negative) to/from the Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).

Time is an important component of modern computing, with many equipment, software, and applications relying on Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) to function effectively. This makes the introduction of the leap second an important consideration for all technology and service providers.  You can find more information about the leap second announcement in the US Naval Observatory Press Release.

How Qualys Will Respond to the 2016 Leap Second

We are not expecting an impact to our services and products. Qualys Operations will be monitoring for any possible anomalies, and any updates or changes will be transparent to the user.

Leap seconds are not a product security vulnerability and are not currently exploitable. However, we cannot rule out the possibility of impact on untested systems, and therefore leap seconds have been classified as a product bug and managed accordingly.

In the case of an anomaly detected that will require a fix, the change will be applied as a hot fix with priority and will be transparent to the user.

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