Google Cloud Accidentally Deleted: $125 Billion Australian Pension Fund UniSuper’s Account

A shocking incident occurred when Google Cloud accidentally deleted the account holding $125 billion of pension funds belonging to the Australian superannuation fund UniSuper. This mistake left over half a million UniSuper members unable to access their superannuation accounts for a week.

Google Cloud Accidentally Deleted

On May 8, 2024, UniSuper members started experiencing issues with accessing their accounts. The problem was traced back to a misconfiguration on Google Cloud’s part.

During the provisioning of UniSuper’s Private Cloud services, an inadvertent misconfiguration led to the deletion of UniSuper’s Private Cloud subscription. This unprecedented error resulted in a massive disruption, causing significant concern among the fund’s members.

Account Inaccessibility: Over 500,000 UniSuper members could not access their superannuation accounts. This outage lasted for an entire week, during which members were unable to monitor or manage their retirement savings.

Misleading Balances: Some members saw lower-than-actual figures in their accounts, further escalating the anxiety and confusion.

Extended Outage: The deletion was so extensive that it affected UniSuper’s redundant systems, which were supposed to safeguard against such outages. Restoration of services began on May 15, 2024, but it was a gradual process, and complete data recovery took time.

Response from UniSuper and Google Cloud

Peter Chun, CEO of UniSuper, and Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud, issued a joint statement apologizing for the disruption. They confirmed that the issue was not due to a cyberattack and no personal data was compromised.

Both leaders described the incident as a “one-of-a-kind occurrence” and assured members that steps were being taken to prevent such errors in the future.

The Apology

Email Communication: Peter Chun reached out to UniSuper members via email, explaining the situation and reassuring them that efforts were underway to restore services swiftly.

Joint Statement: In their joint statement, Chun and Kurian detailed the sequence of events leading to the deletion and emphasized their commitment to resolving the issue. They acknowledged the frustration and disappointment felt by members and reiterated that such an incident had never happened before with any of Google Cloud’s clients globally.

Restoration Efforts

UniSuper’s foresight in maintaining backups with an additional service provider played a crucial role in minimizing data loss. These backups allowed Google Cloud and UniSuper to work together effectively to restore the lost data. The restoration process involved rebuilding hundreds of virtual machines, databases, and applications, demonstrating a significant collaborative effort between the two organizations.

Future Measures

To prevent similar incidents, Google Cloud has undertaken a thorough root cause analysis to understand the misconfiguration fully. They have implemented additional safeguards and protocols to ensure that such a disruption does not occur again.

The accidental deletion of UniSuper’s $125 billion pension fund account by Google Cloud highlights the potential vulnerabilities in cloud-based services, despite their many advantages. This incident serves as a reminder of the importance of robust backup systems and the need for continuous improvement in cloud service management to protect valuable data and maintain trust among users.

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Harry Prajapati
Harry Prajapati

Harry Prajapati is the creator of sharedhan.com. In 2006, he named the website "Sharedhan," which means share market wealth, to reflect its aim of providing information on making wealth through the share market. He has been a lifelong editor and writer with over 10 years of experience as a stock market & Business blogger.

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