Google does the unthinkable – reportedly erasing a 125 billion dollar pension fund

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It’s reported that Google inadvertently erased the Google Cloud account of UniSuper, an Australian pension fund valued at approximately $125 billion. This error resulted in over half a million fund members being unable to access their accounts for nearly a week, as reported by The Guardian. Although UniSuper had a backup system with another cloud service provider, which allowed them to restore service on May 2, the incident raised serious concerns about the reliability of cloud services.

Google Cloud CEO Thomas Kurian and UniSuper CEO Peter Chun described the incident as a “one-of-a-kind occurrence” in a joint statement. They assured that it was an isolated event that had not happened to any other Google Cloud client globally. The executives emphasized that steps have been taken to prevent a recurrence, stating, “This should not have happened. Google Cloud has identified the events that led to this disruption and taken measures to ensure this does not happen again.”

The incident highlights the vulnerabilities associated with the increasing reliance on cloud services by companies and governments worldwide. Google Cloud, which services about 60% of the world’s top 1,000 companies and 90% of generative AI startups, along with half a million other companies globally, must now work to reassure its clients of its platform’s reliability. This includes high-profile clients like Volkswagen and the Royal Bank of Canada.

Moreover, the issue of cloud service reliability is not just a corporate concern but also a national security one. Major government agencies such as the NSA and the Pentagon have also moved significant data operations to cloud platforms, involving multi-billion dollar contracts with major tech companies. This incident serves as a critical reminder of the potential risks and the need for robust safeguards in the increasingly cloud-reliant landscape of global data management.

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