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Crypto Recovery Firm Offers to Unlock Former Ripple CTO’s $244 Million Bitcoin Fortune

Ruholamin Haqshanas
Last updated: | 2 min read
Source: iStock/Ladislav Kubeš

Crypto recovery firm Unciphered has extended an offer to former Ripple chief technology officer (CTO) Stefan Thomas to unlock a hard drive containing over 7,000 Bitcoin ( BTC) that he has been unable to access for years.

In a Wednesday open letter, Unciphered proposed to unlock Thomas’ IronKey hard drive, which holds 7,002 BTC, equivalent to approximately $244 million at the time of writing.

Thomas, a German-born programmer, had forgotten the password required to access the drive, which is designed to erase its data after ten incorrect attempts.

As of now, he only has two more attempts.

Unciphered claims to have developed a method to crack the hardware and securely retrieve the BTC keys that have been stored on the drive for years.

Unciphered Cracked an IronKey Device After 200 Trillion Tries


According to a recent report by technology magazine Wired, Unciphered managed to access the data on a similar IronKey device after a staggering “200 trillion tries,” seemingly bypassing the ten-attempt restriction.

“Though there are always caveats, this is not theoretical,” said Unciphered.

“We can do it; we’ve done it many times before […] And we can do it again. You don’t have to take our word for it […] we would be happy to demonstrate it on as many samples in a row as it takes for you (and everyone) to feel confident before moving forward.”

The company expressed its willingness to showcase its capabilities on multiple samples to instill confidence before proceeding with Thomas’s hard drive.

CEO Eric Michaud of Unciphered revealed that the company gained access to the data on the IronKey mentioned in Wired’s report by extracting certain information from the drive and employing offline servers.

This approach allowed the team to make multiple attempts at guessing the password.

While Michaud refrained from disclosing what the firm would request in return from Thomas, he emphasized that Unciphered had built a sustainable business around assisting individuals in recovering their lost or inaccessible crypto assets.

Almost 20% of BTC Supply Might Be Inaccessible


Aside from Thomas, there have also been numerous high-profile cases involving individuals struggling to recover or locate their crypto keys.

In 2021, a Reddit user claimed to have regained access to 127 BTC after more than a decade by discovering the private keys on an old computer.

In 2013, British national James Howells mistakenly discarded a hard drive containing approximately 7,500 BTC and has since made multiple unsuccessful attempts to find and recover it from a landfill.

In total, some estimates claim that approximately 20% of Bitcoin’s total supply could be inaccessible, resulting in billions of dollars’ worth of the cryptocurrency remaining locked away indefinitely.