Google Accidentally Deletes $125 Billion Pension Fund Account

Google mistakenly deleted the account of a $125 billion pension fund in a rare misconfiguration incident, leading to disruption for more than half a million UniSuper members unable to access their superannuation accounts for a week.

UniSuper is an Australian superannuation fund catering to individuals employed in the higher education and research sectors across the country. If you work within Australian universities, colleges, or research institutions, you may have access to UniSuper’s retirement savings services to aid in planning for your future.

A unique misconfiguration on Google Cloud caused the incident. UniSuper CEO Peter Chun and Google Cloud global CEO Thomas Kurian issued a joint apology to members, recognizing the outage as “extremely frustrating and disappointing.” They reassured members that it wasn’t a cyber-attack and affirmed that no personal data was compromised. The blame was attributed to a glitch in Google’s cloud service, as reported.

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Chun and Kurian emphasized that the incident was an “isolated, ‘one-of-a-kind occurrence’” unprecedented in Google Cloud’s global client base. They stated firmly, “this should not have happened,” highlighting their commitment to preventing such occurrences in the future.

They reassured that Google Cloud had identified the events leading to the disruption and had implemented measures to prevent its recurrence.

Services were gradually restored over a week after the system went offline. Initially, investment account balances reflected figures from the previous week, but UniSuper assured members that updates would be expedited as much as possible.

In 2023, UniSuper made a substantial move of its operations to the Google Cloud Platform. This transition encompassed transferring all non-production tasks, including 1,900 virtual machines, to Google Cloud. Prior to this, its operations were distributed across Azure, another cloud platform, and two of its data centers.

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