C to get improved security in fight against malware-laden USB sticks

Angelica Greene
January 4, 2019

There doesn't seem to be a timetable attached to this new type of authentication, and it remains to be seen how the rest of the companies that are not part of USB-IF will receive the news.

The USB Type-C Authentication Program implements a standard protocol to be able to identify and authenticate certified USB-C chargers, devices and cables, and this security verification happens the moment the device or cable is plugged in.

The USB-IF originally announced the authentication program in 2016, but it's taken all this time to get ready for launch.

With the arrival of USB-C a few years back, plugging into laptops, tablets and smartphones became even easier than before.

The USB-IF is taking applications for participation in the USB Type-C Authentication Programme now, but has not yet indicated when the first compatible devices are likely to appear on the market. If you have a device that requires such accessories, it could simply refuse to recognize connections from uncertified cables.

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The USB Type-C Authentication Program lays the foundation for a new protocol by setting up guidelines that manufacturers can follow. 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.

What is USB Type-C?

To be certified, cables and chargers would need to properly implement the USB Power Delivery spec.

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

The program offers cryptographic-based authentication for USB-C devices and chargers, allowing any device to confirm the authenticity of the USB-C cord in question immediately as a connection is made.

"USB-IF [USB Implementers Forum] is excited to launch the USB Type-C Authentication Program, providing OEMs with the flexibility to implement a security framework that best fits their specific product requirements", USB-IF President and COO Jeff Ravencraft wrote in a media advisory.

Other reports by GizPress

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