As more devices move to USB-C for charging and data needs, it’s also becoming more clear that the tech needs improved security. Today, the USB Implementers Forum is announcing one such change with USB Type-C Authentication .
This new security feature will allow devices to authenticate USB-C connections for legitimacy, both on charging and data connections. Once implemented, the device will instantly verify that a connected USB-C device is indeed legitimate, then blocking or allowing the connection accordingly.
So, for example, consider the benefit when using public charging stations. Currently, this is a security risk―once you connect your device, what happens next is generally out of your control. If the station is compromised, your data could be at risk. With USB-C Authentication, however, the connected device could see that the source is a non-compliant charger and immediately block its access to your device before any data is accessed.
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The USB-C Authentication press release goes into more detail, but here are the highlights of the feature:A standard protocol for authenticating certified USB Type-C chargers, devices, cables and power sources Support for authenticating over either USB data bus or USB Power Delivery communications channels Products that use the authentication protocol retain control over the security policies to be implemented and enforced Relies on 128-bit security for all cryptographic methods Specification references existing internationally-accepted cryptographic methods for certificate format, digital signing, hash and random number generation
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. Hopefully, most manufacturers will see the value in such a system and add it voluntarily.