Rising risk: Protecting your organization’s mission-critical applications

Increasingly, organizations are investing more and more money in IT software systems. Used across a range of divisions, they are often the cornerstone of a business’s operations.

But an over-reliance on any piece of software could spell disaster for your organization.

If mission-critical applications were suddenly unavailable, would you have a back-up plan ready?

Would termination of access to a vital application mean it was business as usual? Or would operations grind to a halt?

Sudden and unexpected application loss will deliver major damage to businesses that are the least prepared.

Prepare for risks

What risk is your organization exposed to?

A lack of access to a business-critical application could cause significant harm to an organization’s reputation and bottom-line. But with a solid system continuity plan in place, time without an application – or an identified alternative – would be reduced, limiting impact on reputation and revenue.

If your organization is yet to put a plan in place, let us explain where to begin.

Assess to mitigate

All good system continuity plans begin with a thorough risk mitigation assessment, helping your company quickly classify low, medium and high-level software risks.

And for a software risk mitigation plan to be effective, it should assess, at the very least, four key areas:

1. Vendor

  • Vendor failure can severely impact the availability of software which may perform business-critical functions. So, ask yourself the questions: How well do you know your vendor? How long have you been working together? And are you confident you would be made aware of its impending failure?

2. Application 

  • A reliance on one or several applications for mission-critical functions can create varying levels of risk to an organization. Identify your most vital pieces of software and prioritize their protection, especially if it means you’re minimizing the impact of failure on multiple users.

3. Internal technical expertise

  • Vendors spend a significant amount of time developing and testing. While this can be a bonus for application users when everything is running smoothly, it can prove to be a headache if and when the time comes to rebuild the software. Most organizations do not have the required technical expertise in-house – and rarely do they even hold the build process documentation or any updates made to the original version - should they need to rebuild an application from scratch or appoint an alternative vendor.

4. Internal operations 

  • Whether a vendor fails or an application becomes unavailable, organizations must assess the impact loss of access would have to business operations. An over-reliance on any piece of software poses a serious risk and without a detailed continuity plan there is a risk of an almost-instantaneous, paralyzing effect on critical functions if a failure occurs.

A thorough software risk assessment of all applications used in your organization is imperative.

Armed with this information, you can effectively identify which mission-critical applications need to be securely held by an independent third party in an effort to mitigate high levels of risk.


You can complete our online software risk assessment tool to receive a detailed, personalised report with the aim of allowing you to see, at a glance, the level of risk an application is posing to your organization.

Start your assessment

Published date:  04 May 2017

Written by:  NCC Group Reporter

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