USB-C Authentication Program Launches to Offer Future Protection Against Malicious Hardware

by

The USB Implementers Forum today announced the launch of a USB Type-C Authentication program, which is designed to create a cryptographic-based authentication definition for USB-C chargers and devices.

This is important because USB-C Authentication will provide protection from malicious firmware/hardware in USB-C devices. There are multiple USB-based attacks that are out in the wild and are able to do things like keystroke injection, installing backdoors, emulating mouse movements, logging data, hijacking traffic, infecting machines with viruses, and more.


In addition to protecting against malicious hardware, the program will keep host systems safe from non-compliant USB chargers that could potentially cause harm.

With the USB-C Authentication protocol, host machines will be able to confirm the authenticity of a USB-C device, cable, or charger. This confirmation happens right when a connection is made before inappropriate power or data can be transferred.

The USB-IF has outlined the characteristics of the USB-Type-C Authentication Program:

  • 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

Manufacturers who create devices that use USB-C will be able to implement the new authentication protocol into their devices to protect consumers. There is no requirement to implement support for USB-C authentication at this time, with protocol provided as an option to OEMs.

Though Apple has not commented on the release of the program, the Cupertino company will likely be one of the companies to adopt USB-C authentication protocols in the future given its focus on security.

Tag: USB-C

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
24 months ago
No more 3rd-party chargers in 3....2...
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Sounds like DRM
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
Great apple will now use this to block any accessories that aren't "made for mac" and forcing people to buy their $80 dongle smh
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
This is rather short on details.


* will there be a central certification authority? Or can any manufacturer create their own keys? Can a manufacturer like Apple decide to whitelist or blacklist certain devices?
* how much control does the user get? Does the spec expect the OS to present a dialog, like iOS 7 and newer do for Lightning devices, for the user to confirm that the device is trustworthy? If so, has there been usability research on this, particularly regarding the risk of making such a dialog useless as the user is trained to always accept?
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
I’m surprised it took this long for anything like this to be announced. It should have been announced years ago. The overall risk is still quite small but eventually I can see this being mandatory for any plug and play device.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
24 months ago
As long as it's optional, this is boon for anyone security conscious. Especially if it applies to Thunderbolt. There's all kinds of wild malicious tricks that can be performed over USB these days, and anything that can potentially lock them out will be welcome.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

iPhone 12 Pro in Graphite and iPhone 12 in Blue Shown Off in Unboxing Videos

Monday October 19, 2020 8:20 am PDT by
While the iPhone 12 Pro does not launch until Friday, we now have an early unboxing video of the device courtesy of Twitter account DuanRui, providing a closer look at the shiny new flat-edge design and sleek Graphite color option. Ben Geskin re-uploaded the unboxing video to YouTube, which we've embedded below: Geskin has also uploaded an unboxing video of the iPhone 12 in Blue: ...

Kuo: iPhone 12 Pro Demand Higher Than Expected

Sunday October 18, 2020 10:39 pm PDT by
TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo released a research note this morning detailing what he's seen with the volume of iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro pre-orders in the first weekend of sales. Kuo had previously indicated that Apple's estimated shipment allocations for the new iPhone models placed the iPhone 12 at the top with 40-45% of inventory allocation (up from 15-20%). However, ...

New Photos Offer Better Look at iPhone 12 Color Options

Tuesday October 20, 2020 2:34 am PDT by
As we wait for the iPhone 12 review embargo to lift later today, more pictures are circulating of the devices in real-world lighting conditions, providing a better look at the different colors available. Leaker DuanRui has shared images on Twitter of the iPhone 12 in white, black, blue, green, and (PRODUCT)RED. The black and white colors are similar to the iPhone 11 colors, but the other...

Hands-On With Apple's MagSafe Charger for iPhone 12

Monday October 19, 2020 11:54 am PDT by
Alongside the new iPhone 12 models, Apple introduced a MagSafe charger that attaches to the back of the iPhones using magnets embedded both in the charger and in the iPhone. It allows for speedier charging and paves the way for a portless iPhone in the future. MagSafe chargers are shipping out and are in some Apple retail locations now, and we picked one up to check it out. Subscribe to the ...

Some Apple Watch SE Owners Experiencing Issues With Overheating [Updated]

Monday October 19, 2020 11:38 am PDT by
There may be an issue with the new Apple Watch SE, which some users have found is overheating after a few hours of usage. Several Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea have run into problems, as noted in a Reddit post chronicling the complaints. There have been six reports from Apple Watch SE owners in South Korea who have had their Apple Watches get hot and malfunction, with a yellow spot...

Apple's New MagSafe Charger and Cases Begin Arriving to Customers

Saturday October 17, 2020 10:10 am PDT by
Apple's new MagSafe charger and cases have begun arriving to some customers earlier than expected, and images of the accessories have started to surface on Twitter. The photos provide a first look at the products in real-world use. As of writing, some MagSafe cases are also available for pickup at select Apple Stores in countries like the United States, Canada, and Germany. Filip...

Apple Releases iPadOS and iOS 14.1 With Multiple Bug Fixes Ahead of iPhone 12 Launch

Tuesday October 20, 2020 10:06 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.1, the first major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 14 operating system updates that were released in September. iOS and iPadOS 14.1 come a week after Apple released the golden master versions of the updates to developers. The iOS 14.1 update can be downloaded for free and it is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access...

Watch: iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro Unboxing Videos and First Impressions

Tuesday October 20, 2020 6:05 am PDT by
Apple's embargo has lifted for iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro reviews. In addition to our detailed review roundups for each device, we've rounded up over a dozen unboxing videos and first impressions below. iPhone 12 in Blue on left and iPhone 12 Pro in Pacific Blue on right via Engadget Key new features of the iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro include a flat-edge design, 5G support, a much faster A14 ...

Apple Plans to Enable 5G in Dual SIM Mode With Software Update Later This Year

Monday October 19, 2020 9:20 am PDT by
iPhone XS models and newer feature both a physical SIM slot and a digital eSIM, allowing for a feature known as dual SIM, dual standby. This means you can have two lines of service on one iPhone, which is useful for purchasing data-only plans while traveling abroad or having personal and business lines on a single iPhone. 5G will not be available in Dual SIM mode on the iPhone 12 and iPhone...

Brazilian Certifications Suggest iPhone 12 Mini Features 2,227mAh Battery and iPhone 12 Has 2,815mAh Battery

Friday October 16, 2020 1:08 pm PDT by
Apple's iPhone mini has the shortest battery life out of all the iPhones in the iPhone 12 lineup due to its small size, but Apple has not provided public information about the battery's capacity. A regulatory filing from Brazil, however, suggests the iPhone 12 mini has a battery capacity of 2,227mAh. The same regulatory information says the iPhone 12 features a 2,815mAh battery, which is...