A cryptocurrency startup offered rescue help to an American man who forgot his USB password and was in danger of losing 7,002 bitcoins, worth more than 300 billion won in current value. However, this man is not holding the hand.
According to the online media Wired on the 24th (local time), the startup Unciphered gave 7,002 bitcoins worth $235 million (about KRW 316.7 billion) to Stefan Thomas, a Swiss-born cryptocurrency entrepreneur living in San Francisco, USA. He offered to unlock the password on the USB drive it contained . Thomas is a software developer who used to be the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of another cryptocurrency, ‘Ripple’. He received 7,002 Bitcoin as compensation for producing a video titled ‘What is Bitcoin’ posted on YouTube in early 2011
. left. At the time, the price of one Bitcoin was 2 to 6 dollars, less than 10,000 won. He stored the private key to access his Bitcoin in a USB digital wallet using an encryption technology called ‘Iron Key’. But one day, the trouble began when I forgot the password to access the iron key. Thomas entered different passwords eight times, but they all failed. The problem is that he only has two chances left. If you enter the wrong password 10 times, Iron Key will encrypt the stored contents and you will never be able to access them. Over the past 12 years he has worked hard, the value of Bitcoin has soared and its total value is now around $235 million. In particular, his anxiety reached its peak in 2021 when the price of Bitcoin peaked. Bitcoin soared to about $69,000 at the end of 2021, exceeding 80 million won in domestic prices. Thomas’s holding value rose to about 560 billion won. “I lay in bed every day trying to remember what the password was, but it was hopeless,” Thomas said. With the Iron Key safely stored in a safe, Thomas hopes cryptographers will be able to crack the password. The company that recently came to the rescue was Unciphered, a cryptocurrency technology startup. Unciphered is a startup founded in 2021 by crypto experts and white hackers, and its business model is to provide cryptocurrency holders, like Thomas, who are at risk of losing a huge amount of wealth due to not properly managing their passwords. Over the past eight months, they have developed a function that can decipher a specific model’s Iron Key and proposed decryption to Thomas. In fact, according to Wired, when they were sent a USB encrypted with a specific Iron Key model at the end of September , they were able to decrypt it. Although they refused to reveal the principles of the decryption technology, they succeeded in decrypting the encrypted Iron Key in just one day. Unciphered claims that it has decrypted the Iron Key code, which was released in 2011, more than 1,000 times. They also succeeded in unlocking three iron keys in a demonstration released to Wired. According to Wired, the Uncyphered hacker, who introduced himself as ‘Smith’, explained that he found the password after numerous attempts using a high-performance computer. According to Wired, they use cutting-edge technologies such as laser cutters and ultra-high-performance microscopes to extract and analyze chips containing Bitcoin keys and analyze signals coming from the chips, utilizing all kinds of mechanical, chemical, electrical, electronic, and communication technologies. However, despite the potential shown by Unciphered, Thomas had commissioned two other code-breaking teams to decrypt the code a year ago, and rejected Unciphered’s offer because he wanted to give them more time. Thomas’ intention is to use the remaining two opportunities as carefully as possible.
Meanwhile, Unciphered hacker Smith told Wired: “메이저놀이터We didn’t reach out to Thomas until we were confident we had a complete, verifiable and reliable method, and now we’re at that level.” However, Thomas declined the offer even before Uncipherd told him the price for decryption.
“It is correct that I declined Uncipherd’s offer,” Thomas wrote in an email to Wired. “I am already working with other experts and am not in a position to negotiate with someone new. However, if I feel that the team I am currently working with is the best option, “We could probably subcontract it to Uncyphered,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Uncipherd plans to send an open letter to Thomas to persuade him to take on the job. However, Thomas is in no hurry even though more than 310 billion won is at stake.
In an article introducing Thomas’ story in 2021, the New York Times revealed that Thomas already has a huge amount of Bitcoin thanks to his success in another cryptocurrency venture (Ripple). Of course, it is Bitcoin in a safe state where the password has not been lost. Meanwhile, according to Chainalysis
, a cryptocurrency-related company, the value of Bitcoin tied up due to loss of passwords or storage devices amounts to $140 billion globally.