Have you heard of the Traffic Light Protocol (TLP)? It’s been around for nearly two decades. The United Kingdom’s National Infrastructure Security Coordination Center (NISCC) created the TLP in the early 2000s. While it was initially used internally within the United Kingdom’s government, it has since made its way to other organizations and even private businesses. If you run a private business, you may want to use the TLP.

What Is the TLP?

The TLP is a color-coded system for data classification. It’s designed to organize and classify data based on its sensitivity. Data that’s highly sensitive will be classified with a different color under the TLP than data that’s not sensitive.

Like the traffic lights found at roadway intersections, the TLP leverages multiple colors. There are four separate colors, including red, amber, green and white. With the TLP, data is assigned to a particular color based on how sensitive the data is.

How the TLP Works

White represents the lowest level of sensitivity under the TLP. Data that’s assigned to the color white has little or no risk of misuse. It’s still subject to copyright laws, but businesses typically aren’t concerned about the misuse of white-assigned data. Businesses may publish data on their websites, for instance. The data isn’t sensitive, so it’s assigned to the color white under the TLP.

A step up from white under the TLP is green. Green is used to classify data with limited disclosure. In other words, green-assigned data shouldn’t be visible to the public. it should only be visible to select organizations or individuals.

Another color under the TLP is amber, which is the equivalent of yellow on a typical roadway traffic light. Amber is used to classify data that’s restricted to the members or employees or an organization or business. Cybersecurity assessments typically fall under this category. If you create a cybersecurity assessment for your business, you’ll want to keep it confined within your business. Amber denotes internally-restricted data, which may include cybersecurity assessments and other related forms of data.

Data with the highest level of sensitivity under the TLP Is assigned to the color red. Red means that only select individuals should be able to view the data. When data is assigned to the red color under the TLP, it’s not available for all members or employees or an organization or business. Rather, it’s only available for select individuals. Personal identification records are typically assigned to the red color under the TLP.