Are you the kind of person who would be hesitant to charge gadgets through a public charger, like the ones that come to the seat of your plane? Apple’s first beta of the just-announced macOS 13 Ventura includes a feature seemingly designed to address the fear of manipulation. It makes USB-C and Thunderbolt accessories express ask for your permission before they can communicate with MacBooks powered by Apple’s M1 or M2 chips.
Here’s the full description of the feature in Apple’s release notes:
On Apple silicon portable Mac computers, new USB and Thunderbolt accessories require user approval before the accessory can communicate with macOS for connections that plug directly into the USB-C port. This does not apply to power adapters, standalone displays, or connections to an approved hub. Devices can still charge if you choose Do not allow.
You can change the security configuration in System Settings > Security & Privacy > Security. The initial configuration is Ask for new accessories. Configuring an accessibility switch sets the policy to always allow the use of accessories. Approved devices can connect to a locked Mac for up to three days.
Accessories attached during the software update of earlier versions of macOS are automatically allowed. New accessories attached before the Mac restarts can enumerate and function, but are not remembered until they are connected to an unlocked Mac and explicitly approved.
I’ve read it a few times now and I don’t see any obvious downside. Your MacBooks will still charge just fine, they can still connect to external displays, and you can turn the whole thing off if you don’t want to be bugged. Apple isn’t trying to create a new certification here – you’re the one in control. It sounds like it’s just added protection against potentially nefarious or non-compliant USB gadgets, both of which are real things and at least one of which has damaged MacBooks in the recent past.
Perhaps it is a more realistic solution than the one launched by the USB Implementers’ Forum in 2019 (pdf), which required companies to use a “USB Type-C Authentication Program” that gave each USB device an encrypted certificate to verify its identity and its confirm options.
However, Apple’s solution doesn’t necessarily have to stop “USB Killer” gadgets from trying to fry computers by overloading their USB ports with too much electricity. “Inappropriate power supply” was one of the problems that the USB-IF idea tried to combat.
Speaking of USB-C power, it’s soon to be officially set for a major boost: the first 240W USB-C PD cables recently broke coverage, and we’re eagerly awaiting the chargers, laptops, and external batteries that arrive. belong to it.