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How to secure USB transmission

Posted: 05 Aug 2009     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:USB  secure transmission  data communication 

As more and more embedded designs move towards communicating with computers, there is a growing demand for USB connectivity. USB doesn't have a built-in security mechanism for securing the data communicated on the bus. For some applications, this might be a concern.

USB defines several sets of device classes that specify how these devices operate. Many of these devices have predetermined communication data formats that must be followed so that they operate correctly.

This allows devices such as mice, keyboards and thumb drives to operate on all platforms, without the need to install drivers when the device is attached for the first time.

These devices don't really need any type of security, since their data payloads are already known. Other devices that don't use a predetermined data format have the flexibility to send custom application data. Since USB was designed more for the predetermined data applications than custom applications, there isn't a built-in security or encryption mechanism for these types of devices.

To further complicate matters for custom USB application developers, USB analysers are cheap (even free) and easy to use. These analysers can capture USB traffic and allow anyone to see the USB traffic and get potentially confidential information with very little technical expertise.

View the PDF document for more information.





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