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A San Francisco man only has two password guesses left before losing access to $ 236 million in Bitcoin.
Forgetting a digital password is one of the most frustrating problems in the first world. You set one up, click on “Save this password” in the respective service and then never have to think about it again … until the dreaded day when you have to enter it manually. Then you notice that all memories of it have faded in the ether.
It’s annoying enough when it comes to a social media account or an email address. But let’s keep our fingers crossed for Stefan Thomas, a programmer from Germany who lives in the Bay Area and is desperately trying to win back his Bitcoin millions.
Stefan’s password would give him access to his IronKey, a small hard drive containing the private keys for his digital wallet containing 7,002 Bitcoin, which is roughly $ 236 million. Only recently, the value of the currency hit an all-time high of $ 20,000.
However, Stefan has a little problem. As it sounds, IronKey provides strong protection for its content. So strong, in fact, that if you don’t enter your password correctly within 10 guesses, everything on it will be encrypted forever. The password he needs was written on a piece of paper that he has since lost.
He told the New York Times, “I would just lie in bed and think about it. Then I’d go to the computer with a new strategy and it wouldn’t work and I’d be desperate again. ‘
Stefan’s plight is not particularly uncommon, however. According to cryptocurrency data company Chainalysis, around 20% of the world’s 18.5 million bitcoins, valued at around $ 140 billion, are inaccessible because they are trapped in a lost digital wallet.
Wallet Recovery Services, a company that does exactly what it says it is, is now receiving up to 70 requests per day from people in a situation similar to Stefan’s.
Brad Yasar, a Los Angeles entrepreneur who has lost access to thousands of valuable Bitcoin that he created or mined over the years, said, “Over the years I’ve spent hundreds of hours getting back into those wallets to get … I move on I don’t want to be reminded every day that what I have now is a fraction of what I could have, what I’ve lost. ‘
Unlike PayPal, which allows you to save funds in your account and recover your password, Bitcoin does not offer such a service. From the beginning, its creator Satoshi Nakamoto wanted a cryptocurrency that was free from regulation.
Realistically facing the loss of his Bitcoin wealth, Stefan said, “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 because we don’t want to get involved in all of the things that banks do. ‘