Technology Forum

Technology Forum

  1. Zugzwang
    08 Jun '07
    12 Jan '21 20:49

    "Programmer has two guesses left to access £175m bitcoin wallet
    Stefan Thomas is not the first person to forget a password, but
    memory lapses are rarely so potentially costly"

    "Stefan Thomas has just two chances left to get his hands on his $240m (£175m) fortune.

    Thomas is a San Francisco-based computer programmer, and a
    decade ago he was given 7,002 bitcoins as a reward for making a
    video explaining how the cryptocurrency works.

    At the time he was paid, they were worth $2-$6 each. He stashed
    them away in his “digital wallet” and forgot about them.

    Now each bitcoin is worth $34,000, and the contents of his wallet
    are valued at $240m. But Thomas has forgotten the password that
    will unlock his fortune.

    German-born Thomas has already entered the wrong password
    eight times, and if he guesses wrong two more times his hard drive,
    which contains his private keys to the bitcoin, will be encrypted –
    and he’ll never see the money.

    The price of bitcoin hit more than $40,000 last week, having doubled
    in less than a month. It has since fallen back but it is still up by more
    than 700% since the pandemic was first declared in March last year,
    rising from about $5,000.

    Thomas said he has tried his eight most frequently used passwords
    to access his IronKey hard drive, but all turned out to be wrong.
    The device auto-encrypts all contents after the 10th inaccurate guess."

    "Following the publicity of Thomas’s plight, Alex Stamos, an internet security
    expert at Stanford Internet Observatory, said he could crack the password
    within six months if Thomas gave him a 10% cut of the digital fortune."

    "Cryptocurrency data firm Chainalysis said it estimated that about 20% of
    the existing 18.5m bitcoins appears to be lost or stranded in inaccessible wallets.

    In 2013, Welsh IT worker James Howells accidentally threw out a hard drive
    containing the keys to 7,500 bitcoins. At the time, the lost bitcoins were
    worth about £4m. Now, they would be worth more than $250m."