Tyler Cralle

Forgotten Passwords Keep Millions from their Owners

Bitcoin owners are getting rich because the cryptocurrency has soared. But what happens when you can’t access that wealth because you forgot the password to your digital wallet? (New York Times)

We’ve all forgotten our password from time to time. For most, it’s a minor inconvenience, but it could cost Stefan Thomas 200 million dollars…

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. While the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply on Monday, it is still up more than 50 percent from just a month ago when it passed its previous all-time high around $20,000.

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.

“I would just lay in bed and think about it,” Mr. Thomas said. “Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn’t work, and I would be desperate again.”

About 
Tyler Cralle is the founder and host of the Markets & Mortgage podcast and newsletter available each and every weekday morning
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