USB type-C may be the wave of the future, bringing its advanced connectivity to the latest generation of smartphone flagships, but its rise to prominence has been plagued by some bad PR, especially as poorly-made cables and adapters infiltrated the market and found themselves blamed for damaging some expensive hardware. Retailers and concerned consumers had taken it upon themselves to identify and stop sales of non-standard USB type-C accessories, but would that be enough to win back the trust of shoppers? The USB 3.0 Promoter Group isn’t taking any chances, and today announces a new authentication protocol designed to allow secure certification of chargers, devices, cables, and power sources.
The system allows devices to interrogate all the hardware connected to them over USB type-C and verify details like power-transfer capabilities. More than helping to weed-out shoddily made cables, the authentication system has the capacity to allow devices to define their own security protocols: maybe a business could enhance security by only letting its employees transfer data via approved white-listed USB drives, for instance.
While all this sounds noble, should we be just the slightest bit apprehensive about cryptographic certification over-complicating something that really should be quite simple? Sure, there appear to be some very real benefits from this scheme, but are we looking at a future where USB becomes as locked-down and controlled as Apple’s proprietary Lightning cables (with their own controversial authentication chips)?
We’re trying not to get too paranoid here, and will reserve judgment until we start seeing this system in action.