What is Effect 2038 what devices does it affect and what danger could it pose

By:   Fedora Atjeh Fedora Atjeh   |   9/23/2017 08:51:00 PM
What is Effect 2038 what devices does it affect and what danger could it pose

On January 19, 2038, when the clock ticks at five fourteen minutes to seven in the morning (03:14:07 UTC), a computer bug will cause much of the computers, programs, servers or any kind of device that uses a system of 32 bits and has not been patched to fail on a global scale thinking that it returns to be the year 1901.

Do you remember the 2000 effect that caused so much concern at the end of the last century? For "the effect 2038" (Y2K38 for friends) is something like that. Possibly it does not end up affecting us, there is a lot of time to patch or replace 32 bit systems, but today we are going to tell you why there is this problem so that you understand well what it has been talking about, and will continue to do, when referring to Y2K38 .

We often hear of the problem of 2038 in December 2014, in the midst of the Gangman Style fever. The PSY video reached 2,147,483,647 views on December 3 of that year, and after surpassing that number YouTube stopped being able to count beyond. Google had to patch YouTube, and the rest of the world realized that we had a problem.

What is Effect 2038 what devices does it affect and what danger could it pose

The year 2038 problem is due to the maximum bit capacity that 32-bit systems can count. They store memory and execute their processes using 32 binary digits, which can be represented by a 1 or a 0, allowing a total of 4,294,967,295 possible combinations.

But we must bear in mind that these combinations can be positive or negative, so in reality 32-bit systems "only" have 2,147,483,647 positive values ​​above zero and another 2,147,483,647 negative values.

One of the systems that these processors use to count the time is the POSIX, which calculates the seconds elapsed since January 1, 1970 at 00:00:00 UTC. This means that starting January 1, 1970, 32-bit computers are only able to count dates between 20:45:52 UTC from December 13, 1901 to 03:14:07 UTC January 19, 2038.

Therefore, a second after 03:14:07 UTC on January 19, 2038, 32-bit systems will no longer be able to count more, and will confuse the date with December 13, 1901, which is the date of reference of 1970 subtracting the 2.147.483.647 negative seconds.

The bug mainly affects the Unix operating system, which is in the guts of other systems such as GNU / Linux, Android and iOS. Therefore, this ranges from almost all mobile phones to a large part of the Internet servers. And the most disturbing thing is that we do not know how these systems will act that are affected by not being able to count more time.

Some would simply reset their dates back to 1901, enough to create a bit of chaos depending on where it happens. But it is also possible that system failures will be triggered, or even that some devices will shut down and will not turn on again. In any case you can be calm, because it is not something that will really affect us.

Although on paper it all looks like an almost biblical catastrophe, there really is not too much to worry about. Keep in mind, for example, that 32-bit processors have been abandoned for 64-bit years, because having a higher bit rate would not experience this problem.

For example, Microsoft has been offering 64-bit versions of its operating system since Windows XP Professional in 2005, Apple's MacOS system has been exclusive 64-bit from Mac OS X 10.7 "Lion" in 2011, and the first Android phones with 64 bits started arriving in 2014.

Therefore, if already in 2017 the 32 bits are becoming obsolete, it is logical to think that for 2038 even the 64 bits that are gradually being transitioned have also been abandoned by more advanced ones. After all the technology is advancing by leaps and bounds, so it is difficult for us to remember even 32 bits in 20 years.

And even if there were still some network system or secondary device anchored in the 32 bits at that time, manufacturers have plenty of time to patching them with software updates. Come on, it's going to be very difficult for this 2038 problem to end up causing any significant damage.

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