UniSuper pension fund

Google explains glitch: misconfiguration deleted customer cloud

Image source: Sundry Photography / Shutterstock.com

Google Cloud recently experienced one of its biggest blunders ever. The Australian pension fund UniSuper, with assets of 135 billion dollars, had its entire cloud account deleted due to an error on the part of Google. Google now explains what exactly happened.

Even the backups were lost in the incident, which led to a two-week outage for the 647,000 members. Initially, it was only briefly stated that an “unintentional error setting” during the provision of the UniSuper Cloud had led to the deletion. The internal investigation report is now available. According to the report, Google employees accidentally left a parameter blank when setting up a VMware Engine cloud for UniSuper. As a result, the cloud was automatically deleted after a certain period of time – without warning the customer.


The serious consequences

The frightening thing was the sudden and irreversible account deletion, although there should actually be safeguards for this. Google emphasizes that the usual warning messages only apply to customer-initiated deletions, not to incorrect operation by service employees. UniSuper initially had to fall back on less recent backups from a third-party provider. Google claims that the cloud storage backups were not affected. In view of the two-week downtime, however, this seems doubtful.

Consequences and safety measures

The incident only affected this one customer and, according to Google, will never happen again. The faulty internal tool has been deactivated. All cloud environments were checked to rule out subsequent cases. In addition, the automatic deletion routine for faulty setups has been deactivated. Google assures that the standard safeguards against accidental deletion are otherwise intact.

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