The average total cost of a data breach now exceeds $4 million — the highest average cost in nearly two decades. This is in part due to the growing quality and quantity of cyberthreats.

It has become imperative for businesses to be aware of all the risks inherent in the evolving cyber landscape — and that’s where risk mitigation comes in.

Risk mitigation is at the core of business continuity and helps stakeholders manage the chaos and the variables that impact operations. In other words, you need to understand risk mitigation to devise a holistic cybersecurity plan.

What is risk mitigation?

Risk mitigation is a systematic step-by-step process to increase opportunities and reduce the negative impact of threats and disasters on business continuity. Threats might include cyberattacks, natural disasters and other causes of physical or virtual damage.

Why is it important to mitigate risk?

Risk mitigation addresses inevitable threats. The focus is on the aftermath of an incident, with the goal of reducing its impact on the organization. A proactive approach to risk mitigation reduces financial and legal consequences caused by an incident in order to keep the business stable both in the short and long term. A business that understands its risk tolerance and uses it to develop mitigation strategies helps the business efficiently and effectively achieve its goals.

Risk mitigation strategies

Risk mitigation strategies should be unique in their ability to address risks based on how they affect performance, cost, scheduling, etc. Follow the risk mitigation framework to deploy a sound strategy.

Acceptance

Risk acceptance involves identifying and analyzing risks and highlighting their consequences to stakeholders. Sometimes, accepting a level of risk is a more desirable option when the cost of other risk mitigation options (avoidance, limitation) outweighs the cost of risk itself. However, keep a close eye on your risk appetite to ensure the exposure is worth it.

Avoidance

Risk avoidance is when the cost of risk acceptance is more than mitigation. In such instances, businesses choose to avoid the action that leads to risk exposure. This may require compromising other variables to ensure the risk doesn’t occur. A few examples of risk avoidance are exiting the business, canceling a project, closing the factory, etc.

Transfer

Risk transfer allocates risks and their consequences to different parties like an insurance company or subcontractor. While outsourcing risks might increase costs, it can potentially reduce costs arising from future damages.

Control

Risk control is when you take countermeasures to handle the cause of risks and decrease the impact of their consequences. These controls detect the causes of unwanted events prior to the risk occurring. A blend of technology, markets, operation and supply chain brings high risk levels down to acceptable levels.

Risk mitigation planning

The Project Management Institute defines the risk mitigation planning process as developing options and actions to enhance opportunities and reduce threats to project objectives. It’s a five-step process to mitigate potential risks and manage them once identified.

  1. Identify risks: Identify all events in which risk is presented. Engage multiple stakeholders with different business perspectives to give yourself the best chance of identifying all risks. The events may include, but are not limited to, events that compromise the safety of mission-critical data or result in industry-related risks, geographical risks and employee risks.

  2. Assess risks: Risk assessments involve measures, processes and controls to reduce the impact of risk. Define and describe the risk, then quantify the risk level to understand the areas of impact and the intensity. Once you get a list of risks, assess them by analyzing the likelihood of occurrence and degree of severity on the business.

  3. Prioritize risks: Rank quantified risks against severity. This means accepting more risk in one part of the organization to protect the other. Ensure each risk and its category and prevention measures are documented since the severity of risks might vary in different situations. This helps in better resource allocation to ensure business continuity while also putting fewer mission-critical business functions on standby.

  4. Track risks: It’s essential to monitor each risk, which involves tracking risks as they change in severity and relevance. Categorize risks as small, medium and high based on their severity and understand which risks you can afford and which you should avoid for that incident.

  5. Monitor results: Reevaluate the efficacy of your risk mitigation plan by monitoring progress. In disaster recovery planning, testing the plan is vital. Similarly, risk mitigation planning requires regular testing to ensure the plan is up to date and functions well. Share the test results with stakeholders to help them make informed decisions, improving the effectiveness of your risk mitigation strategy.

Risk mitigation with Unitrends

Unitrends Unified BCDR offers a comprehensive backup and recovery suite that reduces the frequency and severity of security-related incidents.

Unitrends offers support for more than 250 versions of operating systems, applications and hypervisors. Recovery options range from granular file recovery and instant recovery of physical and virtual servers to invisible failover into the Unitrends Cloud with our Disaster Recovery-as-a-Service. You also get automated, application-level recovery testing with Recovery Assurance. Customizable, automated tests validate the integrity and recoverability of critical machines and services, and proactively detect recovery issues. Reports are automatically generated, documenting performance against SLA compliance goals and proof of service recoverability.

Find out how Unitrends helps you bolster your risk mitigation efforts.

About Adam Marget

Adam is a Technical Specialist on the Unitrends marketing team supporting digital and in-market events. Over the last 4 years with Unitrends, he has been delighted at the opportunity to work with customers, prospects, and partners alike to help solve challenges around data protection and business continuity. Adam joined Unitrends in 2016, bringing with him experience working with variety of manufacturers’ technology from edge to core as a coworker from national IT solutions provider CDW.