Traffic Light Protocol

Traffic light protocol image on street corner
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Traffic Light Protocol is a set of designations employing four colors (RED, AMBER, GREEN, and WHITE) used to ensure that sensitive information is shared with the correct audience.

The fundamental concept is for the originator to signal how widely they want their information to be circulated beyond the immediate recipient. It is designed to improve the flow of information between individualsorganizations or communities in a controlled and trusted way. It is important that everyone who handles TLP-labeled communications understands and obeys the rules of the protocol. Only then can trust be established and the benefits of information sharing realized. The TLP is based on the concept of the originator labeling information with one of four colors to indicate what further dissemination, if any, can be undertaken by the recipient. The recipient must consult the originator if wider dissemination is required.

  • RED – personal for named recipients only

In the context of a meeting, for example, RED information is limited to those present at the meeting. The distribution of RED information will generally be via a defined list and in extreme circumstances may only be passed verbally or in person.

  • AMBER – limited distribution

The recipient may share AMBER information with others within their organization, but only on a ‘need-to-know’ basis. The originator may be expected to specify the intended limits of that sharing.

  • GREEN – community wide

Information in this category can be circulated widely within a particular community. However, the information may not be published or posted publicly on the Internet, nor released outside of the community.

  •  WHITE  – unlimited

Subject to standard copyright rules, WHITE information may be distributed freely, without restriction.

Source: US-CERT

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