Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Endpoint Security

1/4/2019
08:15 AM
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
Larry Loeb
50%
50%

New USB Type-C Standards Offer Cryptographic-Based Security

The USB-IF has published new guidelines that looks to bring tougher security protocols, including cryptography, to USB Type-C devices to better protect against attacks.

The USB Implementers Forum (USB-IF), a non-profit organization based in Beaverton, Org., and Shenzhen, China, is launching its USB Type-C Authentication Program, which will help define cryptographic-based authentication for USB Type-C chargers and devices.

The organization announced the new standards on Wednesday, January 2.

Under these new guidelines, the protocol is invoked when a device is first connected, before any power or data has been transferred.

While specific details of the authentication program were not discussed in the announcement, the USB-IF described overall goals and features.

(Source: Flickr)\r\n
(Source: Flickr)\r\n

Key characteristics include a standard protocol for authenticating certified USB Type-C chargers, devices, cables and power sources, as well as support for authenticating over either USB data bus or USB Power Delivery communications channels.

In its announcement, USB-IF notes that products using the authentication protocol will retain control over the security policies that are implemented and enforced.

The protocol will use 128-bit security for all "cryptographic methods," and the specification references "existing internationally-accepted cryptographic methods for certificate format, digital signing, hash and random number generation." DigiCert will manage the PKI and certificate authority services for the USB Type-C Authentication Program.

This effort arises during new scrutiny over the security risks that are inherent in the use of USB devices. A USB flash drive has long been viewed as a potential malware delivery device, and this effort attempts to reduce attack surfaces by dealing not only with data infiltration but any attempt to subvert the power train. (See IBM's USB Ban Earns Some Praise, Some Skepticism.)

In December, Google gave Chromebook owners the option to disable the USB port -- via a feature it calls USBGuard -- when the computer is in a locked state to help prevent such attacks.

This follows Apple's action in iOS 11.4.1 that required users to unlock their device after an hour of inactivity before the OS would allow any activity over a USB port.

Extending the USB ecosystem, the USB 3.0 Promoter Group, which includes Hewlett-Packard, Intel, Microsoft, Renesas Electronics, STMicroelectronics and Texas Instruments, also released one revision and one new specification.

The updates are developer-only for now. The recommended consumer and end-user terminology for USB Power Delivery (USB PD) is unchanged.

The USB Power Delivery 3.0 revision includes the enabling of authentication message exchanges over the USB PD communications channel for standard USB Type-C cables to USB Type-C devices.

The new item is the USB Type-C Bridging specification that will provide the necessary method for bridging messages to and from a USB PD link over the USB data bus. It enables a USB host to communicate with the USB PD interface of a downstream port in a connected USB hub.

This effort can have major positive effects on USB security, which has been problematic in the past. By updating what is expected of a USB device in hardware, vendors may be able to stave off the negative effects of uncontrolled USB use.

Related posts:

— Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek.

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Edge-DRsplash-10-edge-articles
I Smell a RAT! New Cybersecurity Threats for the Crypto Industry
David Trepp, Partner, IT Assurance with accounting and advisory firm BPM LLP,  7/9/2021
News
Attacks on Kaseya Servers Led to Ransomware in Less Than 2 Hours
Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  7/7/2021
Commentary
It's in the Game (but It Shouldn't Be)
Tal Memran, Cybersecurity Expert, CYE,  7/9/2021
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World
Download the Enterprise Cybersecurity Plans in a Post-Pandemic World report to understand how security leaders are maintaining pace with pandemic-related challenges, and where there is room for improvement.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2021-41393
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-18
Teleport before 4.4.11, 5.x before 5.2.4, 6.x before 6.2.12, and 7.x before 7.1.1 allows forgery of SSH host certificates in some situations.
CVE-2021-41394
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-18
Teleport before 4.4.11, 5.x before 5.2.4, 6.x before 6.2.12, and 7.x before 7.1.1 allows alteration of build artifacts in some situations.
CVE-2021-41395
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-18
Teleport before 6.2.12 and 7.x before 7.1.1 allows attackers to control a database connection string, in some situations, via a crafted database name or username.
CVE-2021-3806
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-18
A path traversal vulnerability on Pardus Software Center's "extractArchive" function could allow anyone on the same network to do a man-in-the-middle and write files on the system.
CVE-2021-41392
PUBLISHED: 2021-09-17
static/main-preload.js in Boost Note through 0.22.0 allows remote command execution. A remote attacker may send a crafted IPC message to the exposed vulnerable ipcRenderer IPC interface, which invokes the dangerous openExternal Electron API.