Major Operational Disruption

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Major Operational Disruption denotes a high-impact disruption of normal business operations affecting a large metropolitan or geographic area and the adjacent communities that are economically integrated with it. In addition to impeding the normal operation of financial industry participants and other commercial organisations, major operational disruptions typically affect the Physical Infrastructure.

Major operational disruptions can result from a wide range of events, such as earthquakes, hurricanes and other weather-related events, terrorist attacks and other intentional or accidental acts that cause widespread damage to the physical infrastructure.

Other events, such as technology viruses, pandemics and other biological incidents, may not cause widespread damage to the physical infrastructure but can nonetheless lead to major operational disruptions by affecting the normal operation of the physical infrastructure in other ways.

Events whose impact is most significant are referred to as “extreme events”. They involve one or more of the following: the destruction of, or severe damage to, physical infrastructure and facilities; the loss or inaccessibility of personnel; and, restricted access to the affected area. [1]


Examples of major operational disruptions[2]

Man-Made Disasters

  • IT Threats
    • Anonymous Cyber Threats
    • Hackers
  • Terrorist Threats
    • September 11, 2001 Terrorist Attacks
    • 2010 Time Square Attempted Car Bombing
    • 2011 Norway Bombings
    • 2013 Boston Marathon
  • Civil Disturbances
    • Anonymous Protests
    • Occupy Wall Street Campaign
  • Insider Threats
    • Internal Sabotage
    • Work Place Violence/Active Shooter

Natural Disasters

  • Weather-Related Threats
    • Winter Storms
    • Tornadoes
    • Earthquakes
    • Hurricanes (Superstorm Sandy)
  • Pandemic
    • Avian Flu
    • Swine Flu
    • MERS
    • Ebola
    • Covid-19


  1. BCBS, High-level principles for business continuity, August 2006
  2. Business Continuity Planning and Crisis Management, FRBNY, 2015