December 5, 2021

Programmer has two password guesses left before losing $266M in Bitcoin

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A German-born programmer in San Francisco has now used up eight of 10 password attempts he has to unlock the hard drive containing the private keys to his Bitcoin wallet, which contains 7,002 Bitcoin (BTC). As of press time, those holdings would be worth $268 million — that is, if only they were accessible.

As a New York Times profile on Jan. 12 outlined, Stefan Thomas uses a hard drive called an IronKey, but lost the paper on which he wrote down the password for the device “years ago.” If Thomas fails to remember it, 10 failed guesses will result in the drive encrypting its contents forever. He has, so far, tried eight guesses with no luck. 

“I would just lay in bed and think about it. Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

Nearly 20% of all existing Bitcoin — 18.5 million BTC — is thought to have been lost for good, in so-called “stranded” wallets, according to Chainalysis data. Thomas is not alone in his self-avowed desperation: a Los Angeles entrepreneur, Brad Yasar, told the Times that over the years “I would say I have spent hundreds of hours” trying to get back into inaccessible wallets.

 Yasar has stored away his hard drives “in vacuum-sealed bags” so that he is noTitle: Programmer has two password guesses left before losing $266M in Bitcoin
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Published Date: Thu, 14 Jan 2021 10:55:17 +0000