Monday, May 16

$256 million in Bitcoin, a lost password and two attempts left: the story of a German engineer unable to access his wallet

Stephen Thomas years ago he lost the paper where he wrote the password for his bitcoin wallet. And now you only have two tries left to find out or lose the more than 250 million dollars in which (with the current value) your 7,002 BTC are valued. It is the story that tells us New York Times, that of a German engineer who has seen how over the years his forgetfulness turned into tragedy.

The bitcoins are stored on a small encrypted hard drive, called IronKey. It is a flash disk that offers security and privacy. And also 10 attempts before formatting and deleting content. Thomas has already tried some of his most used passwords eight times, but none have worked.

Only two attempts to access your 7,002 BTC

Thomas tells how sometimes he lay in bed and thought of a new strategy. All in order to gain access to the more than seven thousand bitcoins he owns, which with the current value amount to more than 250 million dollars.

The very structure of Bitcoin makes sharing easy and open. To store them safely, many users have devices like the IronKey to add a layer of protection. But what was used as security has ended up being a problem for many.

According to data revealed by the company Chainalysis, between 17 and 23% of existing bitcoins are lost in oblivion. In some cases, they are portfolios with few Bitcoins, but in others, like Thomas’s, they represent a large fortune with the current value.


The problem with the loss of the password has led Thomas to question the mechanism of cryptocurrencies. “This whole idea of ​​being your own bank, let me put it this way, ‘do you make your own shoes?’ The reason we have banks is that we don’t want to deal with all these things that banks do,” he explains to the New York Times.

The solution does not seem easy. A possibility is offered by Alex Stamos, a Stanford University professor and former chief cybersecurity officer at Facebook. According to Stamos, for 256 million dollars, several professionals could be hired with multiple IronKeys and work for several months to find a security flaw that allows access to the information contained in the key. In the end it is a cheap and somewhat old piece of hardware. Although IronKey sells it as an “unhackable” key, they are aware of possible vulnerabilities.

Two million dollars in a crypto wallet, a forgotten PIN and a solution: hack it

Another idea that some users offer is as simple as contacting IronKey itself and “convincing” them with a small percentage. Since 2016, IronKey is officially Kingston.

At the beginning of 2020, we learned the story of Clifton Collins, an Irish drug dealer who decided to keep 12 wallets with 500 bitcoins each. The Irish justice determined that they had been gained illegally, but given the impossibility of accessing them, they were seized and stored indefinitely.

315 million euros in bitcoins: this is how a man has spent years trying to find a hard drive in a landfill

Stefan Thomas has already made up his mind that he will not get them back

The affected declared in 2021 in a interview with ABC7 that he had already made up his mind that he was not going to get his bitcoins back and that he would never be able to get access to them. “It’s been 9 years since then, I’ve had time to process it,” he explains. Stephen Thomas, that He is currently the founder of several companies related to cryptocurrencies..

“There were a couple of weeks when I was desperate, I have no other word to describe it. I questioned my own worth. What kind of person loses something so important?”, he explains, later assuring that “time heals everything” and that he is now “at peace” with that loss. A story that he decided to share in the hope that others would be aware of this problem and avoid making the same mistake.

Image | Olieman.eth
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