New USB-C Authentication Program Will Offer Protection From Malicious Devices

Apple's own Lightning to USB-C cable

USB-C promised a future where we could use a single connector and cable to charge our devices and transfer data between them. Sadly, in reality, USB-C has turned out to be a confusing mess with low-quality cables and chargers flooding the market. These chargers and cables end up damaging the host device by supplying them more power than they can handle. To solve these issues for good, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has announced the launch of USB Type-C Authentication Program.

The program defines cryptographic-based authentication for USB Type-C chargers and devices. This will allow host devices to protect themselves for low-quality and incompatible USB-C chargers. It will also provide a higher level of security as host devices will be secure against USB-C chargers and cables which come with malicious malware-ridden firmware or hardware. All these security checks are done right when the connection is made and before any kind of data is transferred to the host device.

The program will include a standard protocol for authenticating USB-C chargers, cables, devices, and power banks. It will also offer authentication options over either USB data bus or USB Power Delivery channels. USB-IF is also using 128-bit security for all cryptographic methods for enhanced security.

The new USB Type-C Authentication program from USB-IF should help in making the whole USB-C ecosystem safer to use. Perhaps, this change will also encourage Apple to switch to USB-C and ditch the Lightning connector on its 2019 iPhones just like it did with its 2018 iPad Pro lineup.

An important point to note from today’s announcement is that USB-IF is only making the new authentication program optional in nature. OEMs are not required to compulsorily adopt the program, though that could change in the future.

[Via Business Wire]