Programmer has two more password guesses before losing $ 266 million in Bitcoin

A German-born programmer in San Francisco has now used eight of his 10 password attempts to unlock the hard drive containing the private keys to his Bitcoin wallet, which contains 7002 Bitcoin (BTC). At the time of going to press, these funds were worth $ 268 million, that is, if they were accessible.

As a Jan. 12 New York Times profile pointed out, Stefan Thomas uses a hard drive called IronKey, but has lost the paper he wrote down the device password on “years ago.” If Thomas doesn’t remember, 10 failed attempts will cause the drive to encrypt its content forever. He has so far attempted eight guesses without success.

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

Almost 20% of all existing Bitcoin – 18.5 million BTC – has been reportedly lost for good, in so-called “blocked” wallets, according to Chainalysis data. Thomas is not alone in his self-declared desperation: Los Angeles entrepreneur Brad Yasar told The Times that over the years “I would say I spent hundreds of hours” trying to make it back in inaccessible wallets.

Yasar stored his hard drives “in vacuum sealed bags” so that he would not “remember every day that what I have now is a fraction of what I might have that I lost.”

Neither story is rare: Wallet Recovery Services, a company specializing in recovering lost digital keys, is reportedly receiving 70 inquiries every day from customers seeking help. This number is three times higher than before the bull market.

Thomas’ experience has apparently dissuaded him from the concept of a technology that forces individual users to take charge of their finances – with all the freedom and risk that entails. Having initially received the 70002 BTC as a gift in exchange for producing a video to educate people about the currency, he is now skeptical of giving users that degree of control:

“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 everything the banks do. “

His extraordinary losses aside, Thomas has nevertheless kept enough Bitcoin over the years to make a fortune – he is said to be so rich that he hardly knows what to do with it, to paraphrase the report. He also joined Ripple afterwards and acquired XRP, although the company’s recent legal difficulties may now cast a shadow over the future prospects of the project.

The report notes that similar risks exist when users entrust their keys to third-party custodians – citing Mt. Gox and other industry crimes – but includes the contribution of those who think digital currency compromises are worth it. worth it.

An entrepreneur in Barbados, although he has lost 800 BTC in the past, claimed that “the risk of being my own bank comes with the reward of being able to freely access my money and be a citizen of the world”. His perspective, from a corner of the globe where financial inclusion remains a concern, provides insight into why many people may continue to think the same.