USB Type-C Is About to Get Safer and Potentially More Annoying

New USB-C protocol paves way for more secure connections with

USB Type-C™ and USB-C™ are trademarks of USB Implementers Forum.

The new protocol from the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) can be used to validate the authenticity of a cable, charger or hardware at the moment of connection, and stop attacks in their tracks.

It is optional for OEMs to participate in the Authentication program as of now. One is avoiding wonky USB Type-C chargers, which is a well-documented and immensely frustrating hazard of owning a USB Type-C device.

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According to the USB-IF, authentication can be accomplished either via the USB data bus or with standard USB Power Delivery methods. 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. This is something about which early adopters of Type-C had to be cautious.

One way an attacker can compromise a system is by hacking a USB device and making modifications to the firmware or other hardware.

"DigiCert is excited to work with USB-IF and its CA Program Participants from the industry at large to provide the technical expertise and scale needed for the USB Type-C Authentication Program, and we look forward to implementation", said Geoffrey Noakes, Vice President, IoT Business Development at DigiCert.

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Where previous USB certification systems have relied on preventing logos from being printed on or moulded into uncertified products, a rule entirely ignored by many manufacturers, the USB Type-C Authentication system takes a more active approach: The standard defines a protocol by which devices, power sources, and cables can authenticate, using 128-bit cryptographic handshakes, to ensure that everything in the chain is certified as being safe to use. The added cost of getting accessories certified could also mean higher prices for consumers.

This new security feature will allow devices to authenticate USB-C connections for legitimacy, both on charging and data connections.

It sounds similar to Apple's Made for iPhone (MFi) cables and chargers.

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