Traffic Light Protocol (TLP) Matrix and Frequently Asked Questions

The Traffic Light Protocol (TLP) is a set of designations used to ensure that sensitive information is shared with the correct audience. It employs four colors to indicate different degrees of sensitivity and the corresponding sharing considerations to be applied by the recipient(s).

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Traffic Light Protocol

How is it used?

The originator of information to be handled according to TLP should label the information with the correct TLP color in order to indicate how widely that information may be disseminated, usually by including 'TLP: [Color]' in unambiguous text in the header and footer of the document and initialing the markings. If a recipient needs to share the information more widely than indicated by the original TLP designation, they must refer back to the original source.

Please refer to the TLP Matrix above for more detailed information on when to employ the TLP colors (Red, Amber, Green, and White) and how each type of TLP-designated information can be shared.

Why use TLP?

US-CERT works closely with domestic agencies, international governments, and private-sector organizations to coordinate cyber incident identification and response. TLP provides a simple and intuitive schema for indicating when and how sensitive cybersecurity information can be shared within the global cybersecurity community of practice, encouraging more frequent and effective collaboration between US-CERT and its partners.

How is TLP related to other classification and marking schemes?

TLP does not apply to classified information.

The Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) program seeks to standardize the way U.S. Executive departments and agencies handle sensitive but unclassified (SBU) information, including information marked as "For Official Use Only (FOUO)," "Law Enforcement Sensitive (LES)," and others. It should be noted that the TLP designations are not a category or sub-category under the CUI program.

Does TLP designation hold any implications regarding the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

TLP designation does not have any bearing on FOIA or any other law governing public access to government-held information.

Who else uses TLP?

In addition to US-CERT and other domestic communities of cybersecurity practitioners, TLP is also employed by public- and private-sector organizations within Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

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