The seemingly wild-west nature of the current range of USB type C cables, accessories and chargers has prompted the USB Implementers Forum to update their specification today at the Intel Developer Forum in China.
The update would allow hosts supporting the new spec to verify the capabilities of chargers, devices, cables and power sources. The exchange would verify the capabilities of the device using the USB data bus or USB Power Delivery communications channels using 128-bit encryption before exchanging data or establishing a power connection – preventing malware or excess power exchange.
The spec would allow for specific use cases for safer charging or even data transfer, with administrators able to set policies for which devices are able to connect to their systems :
For a traveler concerned about charging their phone at a public terminal, their phone can implement a policy only allowing charge from certified USB chargers. A company, tasked with protecting corporate assets, can set a policy in its PCs granting access only to verified USB storage devices.
Of course our main concern with this stems from phone chargers and cables which have pervaded stores, including Amazon who have themselves recently taken steps to crack down on manufacturers supplying non-compliant cables, chargers, devices etc. This new spec takes it further, but should mean that moving forward there won’t be questions asked about the compliance of a particular accessory.