Gadgets for humans

Say goodbye to faulty USB-C cables once and for all

USB-C cables are supposed to be the end to all our wire woes, thanks to their ability to carry power and data simultaneously, as well as their reversible design.

However, some manufacturers flooded the market with faulty cables that aren’t compliant with the specification and don’t work.

Thankfully, the USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), which maintains the USB-C standard, announced a new protocol to protect consumers from the dangers of low-quality gear and make it a thing of the past.

The USB Type-C Authentication specification will allow host devices, such as your computer or phone, to verify if an accessory, such as a charging cable, is certified by the USB-IF.

This information is instantly transmitted using 128-bit encryption even before data or power connections are established.

In addition, the specification will allow better control over how devices work with each other. For example, a bank could set up all of its computers to only work with flash drives certified as safe for use by its IT department.

The USB-IF says that devices could add support for these new specifications through software updates, but cables and accessories made before this protocol was introduced will have to be replaced.

That should make it easier to buy USB-C accessories in the future. Last year, a Google engineer busied himself with the task of reviewing USB-C cables available online to let people know which ones were duds. Amazon followed his lead earlier this month and banned the sale of non-compliant USB-C cables on its site.

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Published April 13, 2016 — 11:30 UTC

USB 3.0 Promoter Group Defines Authentication Protocol for USB Type-C on Business Wire