Imagine having $ 220 million that you can only access with an encrypted password that you created years ago. Now imagine that you have no idea what a password is and you only have 10 tries to guess before $ 220 million is lost forever. Talk about stressful! This is the plight of the German-born San Franciscan Stephen Thomas. As of this week, his bitcoin portfolio is valued at $ 220 million and Thomas has no idea his IronK, the hard drive that allows him to access his digital wallet of 7,003 bitcoins. He lost the paper he had written years ago for his iron. Thomas has tried eight of his most used password combinations so far with no success.
Thomas is not the only bitcoin owner who is out of his account. The way cryptocurrency encrypts digital wallets means that many people have been locked out of their accounts due to lost or forgotten ironcases. About 20% of the current 18.5 million bitcoins are in lost or trapped purses. These pockets are worth $ 140 billion.
Can you imagine the frustration of these bitcoin owners knowing that they have literally millions of dollars that they cannot access? In many cases, they hark back to the early days of digital wallet bitcoin, when no one really thought cryptocurrency would stop and would be worth anything. Unlike traditional banks such as financial companies like Chase and PayPal, which can reset a customer’s password by verifying information, bitcoin cannot do this. The main idea about Bitcoin by Satoshi Nakamoto, the mysterious creator of Bitcoin, is that it will allow anyone to open a digital bank account, which no government can regulate. For example, bitcoin is run by a network of computers that uses a complex algorithm that creates only one address and a private key for the person creating the account. Bitcoin’s computers allow networks to confirm passwords, allowing transactions without Bitcoin to know, view or gain access to that password. Basically, this means that a bitcoin account can be created without any form of identification. Unfortunately, this system did not take into account how many people are bad at remembering their passwords.
For Stephen Thomas, it has been nine years since he has been forced out of his bitcoin wallet. In 2011, he was living in Switzerland and was given 7,002 bitcoins as payment to make an animated video called “WhatsApp Bitcoin”? Which introduced technology to the people. At that time, the price of bitcoin was $ 2. Today it costs $ 35,000 per bitcoin. Within the year, he lost a digital key to his bitcoin account. When he first realized that he had lost the password in 2012, he had a few weeks where he felt so desperate. Since that time, he has made his peace with it. Certainly, it helps that he has other bitcoin accounts that make him remember that passwords brought him more money than he could have ever hoped for. Thomas, a programmer, is the former CTO of the cryptocurrency company Ripple, also has an account loaded with that company’s XR currency.
But when it comes to that IronKey he doesn’t remember the password – Thomas isn’t giving it. He has stored it in a secure facility and is saving those last two guesses when someone develops a way to crack complex cryptocurrency passwords.