The Traffic Light Protocol (TLP) is a simple system to control sharing of potentially sensitive information.
Information sharing happens from an information source, towards one or more recipients. TLP is a set of four labels used to indicate the sharing boundaries to be applied by the recipients. The four TLP labels are: TLP:RED, TLP:AMBER, TLP:GREEN, and TLP:CLEAR.
The source is responsible for ensuring that recipients of TLP-labeled information understand and can follow TLP sharing guidance.
The source is at liberty to specify additional sharing restrictions. These must be adhered to by recipients.
If a recipient needs to share information more widely than indicated by the TLP label it came with, they must obtain explicit permission from the source.
For the eyes and ears of individual recipients only, no further disclosure.
Sources may use TLP:RED when information cannot be effectively acted upon without significant risk for the privacy, reputation, or operations of the organizations involved. Recipients may therefore not share TLP:RED information with anyone else. In the context of a meeting, for example, TLP:RED information is limited to those present at the meeting.
Limited disclosure, recipients can only spread this on a need-to-know basis within their organization and its clients.
Sources may use TLP:AMBER when information requires support to be effectively acted upon, yet carries risk to privacy, reputation, or operations if shared outside of the organizations involved. Recipients may share TLP:AMBER information with members of their own organization and its clients, but only on a need-to-know basis to protect their organization and its clients and prevent further harm. Note: if the source wants to restrict sharing to the organization only, they must specify TLP:AMBER+STRICT.
Limited disclosure, recipients can spread this within their community.
Sources may use TLP:GREEN when information is useful to increase awareness within their wider community. Recipients may share TLP:GREEN information with peers and partner organizations within their community, but not via publicly accessible channels. TLP:GREEN information may not be shared outside of the community.
Note: when “community” is not defined, assume the cybersecurity/defense community.
Recipients can spread this to the world, there is no limit on disclosure.
Sources may use TLP:CLEAR when information carries minimal or no foreseeable risk of misuse, in accordance with applicable rules and procedures for public release. Subject to standard copyright rules, TLP:CLEAR information may be distributed without restriction.
Note: TLP:WHITE labels have been deprecated in TLP 2.0 and should be treated as TLP:CLEAR.