“Apple wants to make it harder for its customers to use cheap USB-C cables – and it’s for your own good,” Jonny Evans writes for Computerworld.
“Apple has warned its users to avoid using low-quality equipment for years. It was only in 2016 that it was revealed that hundreds of chargers at that time sold on Amazon and advertised as being made by Apple were in fact dangerous fakes,” Evans writes. “These fakes were likely to cause electric shock or burst into flames if exposed to high voltage, typical in the event of a power surge… Modified cables are also sometimes used as an exploit attempt by hackers eager to install malware inside of your devices.”
“Apple and other members of the USB Implementer’s Forum (USB-IF) [have announced] plans to introduce a USB-C authentication program they hope will help protect us against these risks,” Evans writes. “The USB Type-C Authentication Program is a scheme in which computers, smartphones and other “host systems” will be able to identify USB-C cables that don’t meet the grade.”
Read more in the full article here.
MacDailyNews Note: Here’s the USB-IF’s announcement, verbatim:
USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), the support organization for the advancement and adoption of USB technology, today announced the launch of its USB Type-C™ Authentication Program, marking an important milestone for the optional USB security protocol. The USB Type-C Authentication specification defines cryptographic-based authentication for USB Type-C chargers and devices.
USB Type-C Authentication empowers host systems to protect against non-compliant USB chargers and to mitigate risks from malicious firmware/hardware in USB devices attempting to exploit a USB connection. Using this protocol, host systems can confirm the authenticity of a USB device, USB cable or USB charger, including such product aspects as the capabilities and certification status. All of this happens right at the moment a connection is made – before inappropriate power or data can be transferred.
“USB-IF 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,” said USB-IF President and COO Jeff Ravencraft. “As the USB Type-C ecosystem continues to grow, companies can further provide the security that consumers have come to expect from certified USB devices.”
Key characteristics of the USB Type-C Authentication solution include:
• 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
USB-IF selected DigiCert to manage the PKI and certificate authority services for the USB Type-C Authentication Program. For further details, read the DigiCert announcement.
“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.
Source: USB Implementers Forum