An interesting teardown of the Apple Lightning cable, by Chipworks, seems to confirm that the new technology does have some “modest security.”
Of the four chips embedded in the cable, one from Texas Instruments is deemed to be the most interesting. Even though there is no known information about the BQ2025 chip, Chipworks was able to take a closer look at a sample and find some hallmarks of serial communication with some “simple security features.”
Previously, we have analyzed security devices regarding medical printer media (armbands), printer cartridges, flash drive memory, batteries, and smart cards, but this is the first secure cable we have seen. The security does not come close to the herculean approaches that are used in (for example) today’s printer cartridges, but resembles the level of effort that cartridge manufacturers used to implement in the olden days. In other words, at this time the security is “just enough.” With future generations of Apple and non-Apple products, we may begin to see even stronger security and control if the market forces merit it.
While the chip should help prevent low-quality knockoff accessories, Chipworks also said that Apple may be planning some other unique features with the technology in the future.
The new connector was touted by Apple as a necessary step to make even thinner iOS devices. Currently, Apple is the only supplier of Lightning cables as the company is reportedly making significant changes to the Made for iPad/iPhone/iPod (MFi) policies.
Chinese manufacturers are apparently hard at work trying to crack the technology, but it may be a while before we see any lower priced accessories.