USB Type-C Authentication Programme kicks off

Yolanda Curtis
January 4, 2019

That's why the USB-IF, a trade group that promotes and oversees the USB standard, has launched a USB-C authentication program.

In other words, before any power or data can be maliciously piped into the host system, therefore preventing any potential damage.

Of course, device manufacturers and operating system developers will need to include support for USB-C Authentication before it offers anything meaningful, and that's also the biggest downside-this is simply a suggestion at the current time, not a requirement. Instead of playing Russian roulette with a third party charger, whether it's one you buy from Amazon or a charging port at a public terminal, the authentication should ameliorate any unsafe connections.

It will also keep host systems safe from cheap or entirely non-compliant USB-C chargers and devices which could otherwise cause harm. And if you could still say that too many devices in 2018 still used the old microUSB port, chances are that in 2019, USB-C will truly be everywhere.

Today, the USB Implementers Forum is announcing one such change with USB Type-C Authentication.

Leading provider of TLS/SSL, PKI and IoT security solutions, DigiCert, will manage the PKI and certificate authority services.

128-bit encryption will be deployed in the certified devices to ensure that no modifications have been made in the cable.

The Authentication Program launched on January 2 2019, but was not immediately available for manufacturers to use, as the standard has not been completed yet.

That is all marvelous, but because every tool can be a weapon when used improperly and we can't have anything nice, there are fears that this program is essentially a DRM mechanism.

In theory, this stops the spread of malware and other unwanted software over USB-C. The whole USB Type-C plan was about using one connector to support all manner of protocols, from Thunderbolt 3 to Power Delivery, and letting OEMs figure out which ones they wanted to implement. More security is always a good thing, right?

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