Published: Thu, January 14, 2021
Economy | By

Programmer has two password guesses left before losing $266M in Bitcoin

Programmer has two password guesses left before losing $266M in Bitcoin

Thomas was given 7,002 Bitcoins more than 10 years ago for making a video how cryptocurrency works. The issue revolves around what's called an IronKey, a small hard drive that holds the digital keys to one's bitcoin wallet.

The New York Times reports that a German-born programmer in San Francisco has two tries left to access his Bitcoin account with about $220 million worth of bitcoins in it. Now, Thomas' Bitcoin portfolio is valued at a hefty US$233.6 million (AU$303.7 million), which would ordinarily be cause for celebration... if it weren't for the fact he somehow managed to lose the IronKey password. After receiving the cryptocurrency payment in his digital wallet, he moved on with his life.

Even after sliding as much as 20% over Sunday and Monday, the price of bitcoin recovered on Tuesday, rising to about $36,000.

Mr Thomas said he has already tried eight passwords he uses without success. The hard drive is password-protected, and allows users 10 attempts at entering a correct password before encrypting and seemingly cutting off possible access to the tokens.

"Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn't work, and I would be desperate again", Thomas told the New York Times. He was then paid in bitcoin, which at the time was worth just a few dollars.


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 all those things that banks do.

Um, for $220M in locked-up Bitcoin, you don't make 10 password guesses but take it to professionals to buy 20 IronKeys and spend six months finding a side-channel or uncapping.

But Stefan Thomas and his forgotten password aren't exactly the first tragedy on the Bitcoin front.

Thomas said he was frustrated with cryptocurrency over the experience of potentially losing his bitcoin fortune.

And in 2013, a Welsh man desperately searched a landfill site after throwing away a computer hard drive containing 7,500 bitcoins.

Like this: