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Guy Forgets Password to $200 Million Bitcoin Wallet

Amiga

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Jul 8, 2020
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Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, has two guesses left to figure out a password that is worth, as of this week, about $220 million. The password will let him unlock a small hard drive, known as an IronKey, which contains the private keys to a digital wallet that holds 7,002 Bitcoin. The problem is that Mr. Thomas years ago lost the paper where he wrote down the password for his IronKey, which gives users 10 guesses before it seizes up and encrypts its contents forever. He has since tried eight of his most commonly used password formulations — to no avail.

Of the existing 18.5 million Bitcoin, around 20 percent — currently worth around $140 billion — appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets, according to the cryptocurrency data firm Chainalysis. Wallet Recovery Services, a business that helps find lost digital keys, said it had gotten 70 requests a day from people who wanted help recovering their riches, three times the number of a month ago.

 
May 8, 2019
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Why does this sound like the concept of some tv game show?

"You have three chances to guess your 10 year old crypto wallet password or you'll suffer the fate of living a regular life!"
 

Amory

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Jul 10, 2008
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Wtf is the point of a hard drive that gives 10 chances to guess a key and then locks forever

If the thing were somehow stolen, would you not want at least a chance at recovering it regardless of how many passwords the thieves had tried
 

AJUMP23

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Sep 29, 2020
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That is why you have to use a system that you can always guess within 3 uses.
 

Amory

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Idk if I even believe this story.

This is a dude who bought 7000 bitcoin, probably for a significant sum of money since he felt the need to store it offline on a fancy hacker-proof hard drive, and he 'lost the paper' where he had written the password? And he stored this information nowhere else?

 
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EviLore

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May 30, 2004
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Idk if I even believe this story.

This is a dude who bought 7000 bitcoin, probably for a significant sum of money since he felt the need to store it offline on a fancy hacker-proof hard drive, and he 'lost the paper' where he had written the password? And he stored this information nowhere else?

Standard procedure is to memorize a long, unguessable password, and also write the backup codes for the hardware wallet on paper (or a configurable piece of fireproof metal) for storage in a secure location.

It's easy for noobs to forget a long, unguessable password.
 

SirKicksalot

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Jan 9, 2018
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If I had an important password, I'd write it down on a random page of a boring book in my library. The kind of book nobody would want to borrow.
 

Amory

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Jul 10, 2008
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Standard procedure is to memorize a long, unguessable password, and also write the backup codes for the hardware wallet on paper (or a configurable piece of fireproof metal) for storage in a secure location.

It's easy for noobs to forget a long, unguessable password.
I can understand not remembering a long, complex password.

But it'd be incomprehensibly careless to not secure the password in multiple locations, when you're using hardware that will literally eat your money after 10 incorrect entries. Especially since you'd have to be pretty enthusiastic about the future of crypto to even take such steps to secure your bitcoin in the first place.

But what do I know. Like I posted earlier I don't even understand the point of this sort of tech. If someone steals your hardware wallet you're kind of fucked anyway, right? But with this '10 guesses' shit, you don't even really have a chance of getting it back.
 

EviLore

Expansive Ellipses
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May 30, 2004
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I can understand not remembering a long, complex password.

But it'd be incomprehensibly careless to not secure the password in multiple locations, when you're using hardware that will literally eat your money after 10 incorrect entries. Especially since you'd have to be pretty enthusiastic about the future of crypto to even take such steps to secure your bitcoin in the first place.

But what do I know. Like I posted earlier I don't even understand the point of this sort of tech. If someone steals your hardware wallet you're kind of fucked anyway, right? But with this '10 guesses' shit, you don't even really have a chance of getting it back.
If you’re holding 7000 BTC it would be a good idea to replicate your hardware wallets as well. That way it’s irrelevant if one of them falls into someone else’s hands and they prompt an auto-wipe from failed password attempts.