Absolute Risk (Unmitigated)

Level of risk that exists without risk controls.

Sample Usage:

An absolute risk value for the facility, assuming no security measures, was determined at the outset of the analysis. Extended Definition: a hypothetical condition that would exist if risk mitigation measures were absent.


  1. The application of absolute risk to natural hazards is straightforward. It is a reasonable approximation of what the risk would be if all countermeasures were actually removed. It is commonly used as a step in calculating the risk-reduction value of existing or prospective countermeasures.
  2. The use of absolute risk for crime and terrorism involves limitations. In this context, absolute risk involves imagining that no countermeasures are in place. However, it does not involve imagining the response of adaptive intelligent adversaries in this absence of countermeasures. As a result, it is a poor approximation of what the actual risk would be if the countermeasures were removed.
  3. It is critical to be transparent about these assumptions when comparing any crime-or terrorism-related absolute risk (or calculation derived therein) to any other absolute risk-derived calculation.

Source: DHS Risk Lexicon, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2010 Edition. September 2010 Regulatory Guidance

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