The 236 Million password
Forgetting a digital password is one of the most frustrating first world problems. You set one up, click ‘remember this password’ on the respective service, then you never have to think about it again… until that dreaded day when you have to type it manually. Then, you realise all memory of it has faded into the ether.
It’s annoying enough when it’s a social media account or an email address. However, let’s keep our fingers crossed for Stefan Thomas, a programmer from Germany living in the Bay Area who’s desperately trying to recover his Bitcoin millions.
Stefan’s password would allow him to access his IronKey, a small hard drive containing the private keys to his digital wallet containing 7,002 Bitcoin, equating to roughly $236 million. Just recently, value of the currency reached an all-time high of $20,000.
However, Stefan has a slight issue. IronKey, as it sounds, offers strong protection for its contents; so strong in fact, that if you don’t correctly enter your password within 10 guesses, everything on it will be encrypted forever. The password he needs was written on a piece of paper, which he’s since lost.
He told The New York Times: ‘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.’
Stefan’s plight isn’t particularly uncommon, though. According to cryptocurrency data firm Chainalysis, around 20% of the world’s 18.5 million Bitcoin, worth around $140 billion, can’t be accessed due to being trapped in a lost digital wallet.
Wallet Recovery Services, a firm which does what it says on the tin, is now receiving up to 70 requests a day from people in a similar situation to Stefan.