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Californian startup wipes out Google account

10th Jul 2019
Editor in Chief (interim) AccountingWEB
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Google account deleted by accident
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Google account deleted by accident

The perils of poor data management were brought to light in a recent suit filed against Google LLC by a Californian software company that lost all its corporate data.

One of the key strengths of cloud applications is that the professionally run data centres that host them are generally much better than the average user when it comes to storing and protecting data.

But even mighty Google can’t always protect users from themselves, according to the suit filed by Musey Inc co-founder Christiaan Fulton in the US district court in Oakland, California demanding the reinstatement of its data.

On the morning of Saturday 8 June, the complaint reported, “Our Google Gsuite account was accidentally deleted. The Google service person assured us he would be right on it… To our dismay, our case was not escalated and no action was taken for three days.”

All of the company’s product development and user testing work was stored within Google’s vaults, along with personal medical information about one of the employee’s relatives.

After increasingly desperate attempts to contact Google in the following weeks – difficult without an email account – the company eventually got a one-line message back stating that the company’s data was lost and could not be returned.

If Musey wanted access to its data, the company was advised by Google that it could file a subpoena or civil request – resulting in the case document filed in Oakland. From information provided in the complaint, Google has put in place a standard process for dealing with any data request via a third party legal services provider in Sacramento.

Leaving aside Google’s internal processes and responsibilities to customers, data accidents do happen. It’s very easy to be lulled into a false sense of security by the omniscience of the great cloud search engine and app platform.

Maintaining secure, offsite backups is one of the foundations of business continuity and the case papers in Oakland include a link to the Google Takeout service that allows a user to download data stored in their account. Any G Suite user who wants to avoid a disaster of the kind encountered by Fulton would be well advised to make use of Takeout on a regular basis.

Replies (2)

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By flightdeck
10th Jul 2019 14:08

I did mentally "ouch" when I read this but this is one of the problems with all this cloud stuff - you have less control. It's much, much easier for many organisations to spin things up in the cloud rather than build these services in their own infrastructure (like you used to have to do in the old days and wasn't without its own problems).

It's not weird or even new anymore. Many techy companies are doing ALL their business in the cloud. But you still have to think about data governance and retention. I'd be worried about their code too. That's the crown jewels and that's likely to be in github or bitbucket (specialised cloud code repositories ). What controls do they have against a naive or errant user deleting those?! My heart is racing just a little bit faster even just contemplating that. Have they set up a regular github backup?

Are you thinking"oh this doesn't apply to me"? OK, but when did you (or your clients) last back up xero or sage cloud .. ? And if you are a bigger organisation with an in-house IT team, ask them when they last tested backup and recovery (as in actually retrieved a backup and reinstated it, not just eyeballed the logfiles)?

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11th Jul 2019 15:34

Funny, I though a "github" was me, that curmudgeonly old git of a husband that hides behind the computer rather than helping "goodwife" with the housework.

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