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Rainbow Series

For the compact disc standards series, see Rainbow Books. For pre-Internet communications protocols, see Coloured Book protocols.
File:Rainbow series documents.jpg
A complete set of the US DoD Rainbow Series computer security documents

The Rainbow Series (sometimes known as the Rainbow Books) is a series of computer security standards and guidelines published by the United States government in the 1980s and 1990s. They were originally published by the U.S. Department of Defense Computer Security Center, and then by the National Computer Security Center.


These standards describe a process of evaluation for trusted systems. In some cases, U.S. government entities (as well as private firms) would require formal validation of computer technology using this process as part of their procurement criteria. Many of these standards have influenced, and have been superseded by, the Common Criteria.

The books have nicknames based on the color of its cover. For example, the Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria was referred to as "The Orange Book." In the book entitled Applied Cryptography, security expert Bruce Schneier states of NCSC-TG-021 that he "can't even begin to describe the color of [the] cover" and that some of the books in this series have "hideously colored covers." He then goes on to describe how to receive a copy of them, saying "Don't tell them I sent you."[1]

Most significant Rainbow Series books

NIST Rainbow Series
Document Title Date Color
5200.28-STD DoD Trusted Computer System Evaluation Criteria August 15, 1983 Orange Book     
CSC-STD-002-85 DoD Password Management Guideline April 12, 1985 Green Book     
CSC-STS-003-85 Guidance for applying TCSEC in Specific Environments June 25, 1985 Light Yellow Book     
CSC-STS-004-85 Technical Rationale Behind CSC-STD-003-85: Computer Security Requirements June 25, 1985 Yellow Book     
NCSC-TG-001 A Guide to Understanding Audit in Trusted Systems June 1, 1988 Tan Book     
NCSC-TG-002 Trusted Product Security Evaluation Program June 22, 1990 Bright Blue Book     
NCSC-TG-003 Discretionary Access Control in Trusted Systems September 30, 1987 Neon Orange Book     
NCSC-TG-004 Glossary of Computer Security Terms October 21, 1988 Teal Green     
NCSC-TG-005 Trusted Network Interpretation July 31, 1987 Red Book     
NCSC-TG-006 Configuration Management in Trusted Systems March 28, 1988 Amber Book     
NCSC-TG-007 A Guide to Understanding Design Documentation in Trusted Systems October 6, 1988 Burgundy Book     
NCSC-TG-008 A Guide to Understanding Trusted Distribution in Trusted Systems December 15, 1988 Dark Lavender Book     
NCSC-TG-009 Computer Security Subsystem Interpretation of the TCSEC September 16, 1988 Venice Blue Book     
NCSC-TG-010 A Guide to Understanding Security Modeling in Trusted Systems October 1992 Aqua Book     
NCSC-TG-011 Trusted Network Interpretation Environments Guideline (TNI) August 1, 1990 Red Book     
NCSC-TG-013 RAMP Program Document 1989 Pink Book     
NCSC-TG-013 V2 RAMP Program Document version 2 March 1, 1995 Pink Book     
NCSC-TG-014 Guidelines for Formal Verification Systems April 1, 1989 Purple Book     
NCSC-TG-015 Guide to Understanding Trusted Facility Management October 18, 1989 Brown Book     
NCSC-TG-016 Guidelines for Writing Trusted Facility Manuals October 1992 Yellow-Green Book     
NCSC-TG-017 Identification and Authentication in Trusted Systems September 1991 Light Blue Book     
NCSC-TG-018 Object Reuse in Trusted Systems July 1992 Light Blue Book     
NCSC-TG-019 Trusted Product Evaluation Questionnaire May 2, 1992 Blue Book     
NCSC-TG-020 Trusted UNIX Working Group (TRUSIX) Rationale for Selecting Access Control List Features for the UNIX System July 7, 1989 Silver Book     
NCSC-TG-021 Trusted Database Management System Interpretation of the TCSEC (TDI) April 1991 Purple Book     
NCSC-TG-022 Trusted Recovery in Trusted Systems December 30, 1991 Yellow Book     
NCSC-TG-023 Security Testing and Test Documentation in Trusted Systems July 1993 Bright Orange Book     
NCSC-TG-024 Vol. 1/4 Procurement of Trusted Systems: An Introduction to Procurement Initiators on Computer Security Requirements December 1992 Purple Book     
NCSC-TG-024 Vol. 2/4 Procurement of Trusted Systems: Language for RFP Specifications and Statements of Work June 30, 1993 Purple Book     
NCSC-TG-024 Vol. 3/4 Procurement of Trusted Systems: Computer Security Contract Data Requirements List and Data Item Description February 28, 1994 Purple Book     
NCSC-TG-024 Vol. 4/4 Procurement of Trusted Systems: How to Evaluate a Bidder's Proposal Document Publication TBA Purple Book     
NCSC-TG-025 Guide to Understanding Data Remanence in Automated Information Systems. September 1991 Forest Green Book     
NCSC-TG-026 Writing the Security Features User's Guide for Trusted Systems September 1991 Hot Peach Book     
NCSC-TG-027 Information System Security Officer Responsibilities for Automated Information Systems May 1992 Turquoise Book     
NCSC-TG-028 Assessing Controlled Access Protection May 25, 1992 Violet Book     
NCSC-TG-029 Certification and Accreditation Concepts January 1994 Blue Book     
NCSC-TG-030 Covert Channel Analysis of Trusted Systems November 1993 Light Pink Book     

In popular culture

The 1995 movie Hackers contained a reference to the Rainbow Books that showed Dade naming off a series of six books, the second of them being the Orange Book ("Computer security criteria, DoD standards") and the sixth being the Red Book ("NSA Trusted Networks. Otherwise known as the Ugly Red Book that won’t fit on a shelf") from this series. Phreak called them "those Crayola books" and Cereal replied, "Oh yeah, Technicolor rainbow." However the other books, such as the Peter Norton "pink shirt book" (The Peter Norton Programmer's Guide to the IBM PC), are not part of the Rainbow Series.


  1. ^ Schneier, Bruce (1996), Applied Cryptography (2nd ed.), New York, NY: John Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0-471-11709-9 

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