Crypto recovery firm Unciphered has petitioned former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas for access to a hard drive containing over 7,000 Bitcoin (BTC) that he has been unable to access for years. In an open letter dated October 25, Unciphered offered to unlock an IronKey hard drive owned by Thomas, which holds 7,002 BTC, equivalent to approximately $244 million. The former Ripple CTO reportedly forgot the password needed to access the drive, and he has already used eight of the ten allowed attempts.
Unciphered claims to have developed a method to crack the IronKey hardware and safely access the stored BTC keys. According to a report by Wired magazine, the company was able to bypass the ten-attempt restriction on a similar IronKey device after conducting “200 trillion tries.” Unciphered has expressed its willingness to demonstrate its capabilities to Thomas before proceeding with the unlocking process.
Speaking to Cointelegraph, Unciphered CEO Eric Michaud confirmed that the company was able to access the data on the IronKey drive mentioned in the Wired report. He explained that this was done by extracting some of the drive’s information and using offline servers, giving the team multiple attempts at guessing the password. Michaud did not disclose what Unciphered would request in return from Thomas but mentioned that the company has a sustainable business model in helping people recover lost crypto.
While Thomas’ case has gained attention, there have been numerous other instances where users have lost access to their crypto due to forgotten passwords or misplaced keys. In 2021, a Redditor claimed to have regained access to 127 BTC after more than a decade by finding the private keys on an old computer. Similarly, in 2013, British national James Howells accidentally discarded a hard drive containing approximately 7,500 BTC and has since made unsuccessful attempts to locate it in a landfill.
It is estimated that users may have lost access to about 20% of Bitcoin’s total supply, amounting to billions of dollars worth of the cryptocurrency. These cases highlight the importance of securely storing and managing crypto assets. Experts and OGs in the industry emphasize the need to protect one’s crypto in a volatile market.
As for Unciphered, they remain hopeful that Thomas will choose to work with them. Michaud mentioned that the company is prepared even if Thomas declines their assistance but stressed that they have a growing business and will be available whenever he is ready. The outcome of this petition for access to the IronKey hard drive may provide a solution for Thomas and serve as a precedent for others in similar predicaments.