Cloud

Google Cloud accidentally deletes Australian customer’s account

“It’s almost unprecedented to think an organization of that size, could just have their entire cloud account completely deleted.”
article cover

Francis Scialabba

· 3 min read

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.

Google Cloud accidentally deleted the account of one of its customers. In a joint statement on May 8, Google Cloud and UniSuper—the Australian pension fund that experienced the disruption—said that Google Cloud has been “conducting a root cause analysis” of the “one-of-a-kind occurrence.”

“Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian has confirmed that the disruption arose from an unprecedented sequence of events whereby an inadvertent misconfiguration during provisioning of UniSuper’s Private Cloud services ultimately resulted in the deletion of UniSuper’s Private Cloud subscription,” the statement said.

UniSuper—which manages $135 billion Australian (approx. $90 billion US) in pension funds—thankfully had another backup in place with a different provider, and that helped minimize “data loss” and “significantly improved the ability of UniSuper and Google Cloud to complete the restoration,” the joint statement also read.

“It’s almost unprecedented to think an organization of that size could just have their entire cloud account completely deleted,” Scott Leach, the vice president of the Asia-Pacific region at Varonis—a NYC-based company that specializes in software for data security, governance, threat analytics, and more—told IT Brew. “Your entire search—all of the applications that you’re running, all of the data that those applications store, all of the users that have access to that data into those applications—all of it gone.”

Leach commended Google and UniSuper for having a clear communication strategy in quickly relaying info and eliminating any doubt of a cyberattack. He also said UniSuper’s decision to have a backup with another provider was an “impressive” step taken on their part.

“If they had not had that extra backup, who knows how much data might have been lost? Who knows how long the disruption might have been?” Leach said. “There’s definitely a lesson there for other organizations to make sure that you’ve got a kind of multi-cloud approach for your systems and for [your] backup, so that if one cloud provider fails—if this sort of thing happens—you’ve got somewhere else to turn to be able to get service restored, to get your data back.”

Members are now able to log in to their accounts as usual, and services have been fully restored as of May 15, a statement on UniSuper’s site said.

IT Brew has reached out to both Google and UniSuper for comment. UniSuper did not provide any new comments but directed IT Brew to a webpage that contained a statement and FAQs about the incident.

Top insights for IT pros

From cybersecurity and big data to cloud computing, IT Brew covers the latest trends shaping business tech in our 4x weekly newsletter, virtual events with industry experts, and digital guides.