USB-C protocol update warns users of dodgy cables

The new USB Type-C Authentication specification is designed to protect devices from being damaged

Having discovered it's very easy to buy a USB-C cable that will fry your shiny new phone or Chromebook, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group is fighting back with a new protocol designed to let you know whether your new cable is certified or not.

This means when you plug a cable certified by the USB Implementers Forum into your device, it is able to tell your device it's the real deal over a 128-bit encrypted connection. Once they've communicated, your device can pass this information on to you, before you start charging and do serious damage.

There would be benefits for those charging their phones at public terminals – if the phone has the right policy implemented, it will only accept charge from certified cables. There are also security benefits to the update, because companies tasked with keeping and sharing sensitive information can set up policies that only allow data transfer to verified USB devices.

If you've already got a Nexus or Chromebook that uses USB-C, it may be possible to use the new authentication specification after a software update, but the fix won't apply to cables made before the software fix was implemented.

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