How Google Deleted $125 Billion UniSuper Pension Fund Account By Accident

The incident occurred from a “one-of-a-kind” misconfiguration on Google Cloud. (Representational)

In a rare incident of misconfiguration, Google accidentally deleted the account of a $125 billion pension fund, causing disruption for over half a million UniSuper members, who couldn’t access their superannuation accounts for a week. 

UniSuper is an Australian superannuation fund that offers retirement savings services to employees working in the higher education and research sectors in the country. This means that if you work in universities, colleges, or research institutions in Australia, you may have access to UniSuper’s superannuation services to help you save for retirement.

The incident occurred from a “one-of-a-kind” misconfiguration on Google Cloud. UniSuper CEO Peter Chun and Google Cloud global CEO Thomas Kurian issued a joint apology to members, acknowledging the outage as “extremely frustrating and disappointing.” They assured members that the outage was not a cyber-attack and clarified that no personal data was compromised, blaming a glitch in Google’s cloud service, as reported by the Guardian.  

The disruption arose from “an unprecedented sequence of events whereby an inadvertent misconfiguration during provisioning of UniSuper’s Private Cloud services led to the deletion of UniSuper’s Private Cloud subscription,” they confirmed. 

The pair claimed that it was an “isolated, ‘one-of-a-kind occurrence’ that has never before occurred with any of Google Cloud’s clients globally,” stating that “this should not have happened.” 

They assured that “Google Cloud has identified the events that led to this disruption” and took measures to prevent this from happening again. 

Services were gradually reinstated more than a week after the system went offline. Although investment account balances initially mirrored the previous week’s figures, UniSuper assured members that updates would be expedited as much as possible.

In 2023, UniSuper shifted a significant portion of its operations to Google Cloud Platform. The process involved transferring all non-production tasks, including 1,900 virtual machines, to Google Cloud. Before that, its work was spread across Azure (another cloud platform) and two of its data centres.

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