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USB Type-C will soon protect your hardware from dodgy chargers or USB sticks

USB Type-C
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USB Type-C cables offer many benefits, but there is a darker side to the new technology, namely firms selling cheap but dodgy cables which when plugged in can potentially fry your laptop – an issue which the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF) has now announced a solution for.

Over at IDF 2016 in China, the USB-IF has revealed it's working on protection from such dangers with the USB Type-C Authentication specification. Essentially, this is a cryptographic-based software solution (utilising 128-bit encryption) which verifies a USB charger or device's capabilities and certification when it's plugged into the USB port.

As Ars Technica reports, this verification happens before any data or power connection actually occurs, so if the cable doesn't support the specification and isn't certified by the USB-IF, despite being plugged in it won't be allowed to hook up with your notebook, phone or tablet, and your device won't be in any danger of being damaged.

Existing hardware with USB Type-C ports should be capable of being patched with a software update to support the new standard, although of course that depends on hardware vendors implementing it. However, existing USB chargers and devices will be left out in the cold.

IT matters

This standard will be able to provide further protection to businesses, because it will allow the IT department to set up policies so only verified USB sticks supplied by the company can be plugged in and used with the organisation's devices.

There won't be any danger of contracting malware from a rogue USB stick a staff member stupidly plugged in, because the computer simply won't allow a connection to that device.

As you may have seen, a couple of weeks back Amazon announced a crackdown on dodgy USB Type-C cables, updating its listings to rid the online store of cables which don't meet the USB Type-C specification revision 1.1.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).