Though USB-C is undeniably the cable standard of the future, living the ‘dongle life‘ isn’t as simple as it should be given cables adopt varied standards and purposes.
The dream of one cord to rule them all, unfortunately, isn’t yet a reality in 2019.
Now, the USB Implementers (USB-IF) has launched a new USB Type-C Authentication Program that aims to mitigate this issue, at least to some extent.
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. In theory, this stops the spread of malware and other unwanted software over USB-C. Though this issue exists with USB-A, the problem is compounded by the fact that USB-C is designed to transfer data, charge devices and connect external displays.
“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 in a recent statement. “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.”
For instance, a smartphone manufacturer could only allow their handset to be charged from certified chargers as well as grant USB-C storage access to approved accessories. Of course, this could also result in USB-C becoming even more complicated and restricting given that it seems like manufacturers will be able to lock their devices to only specific, approved USB-C accessories.
With this in mind, the USB Type-C Authentication Program isn’t mandatory and is just a recommendation right now. As a result, it isn’t a requirement for all manufacturers that part of the group — at least not yet.