A cryptocurrency recovery company is offering to unlock an encrypted hard drive containing 7,002 bitcoins worth $244 million that has long eluded its owner, former Ripple CTO Stefan Thomas.
In an open letter on October 25, Florida-based Unciphered said its experts likely have the technical means to crack Thomas’ IronKey drive without triggering a permanent lockout.
Thomas famously forgot the password to access the drive years ago, before crypto magic took over the world. The device permanently deletes all data after 10 incorrect password attempts, and he has already used eight tries.
The saga went viral in 2021 after a New York Times profile revealed Thomas’ multi-million dollar dilemma. He stored the bitcoin in 2011, when it was worth pennies, only to see its value skyrocket over the decade.
Unciphered claims it successfully recovered data from a similar IronKey drive for a Wired story by trying “200 trillion passwords” across multiple offline servers. This apparently allowed more than 10 guesses without bricking the device.
CEO Eric Michaud said his team extracted partial drive data and brute-forced different password permutations across clones. He’s hopeful the same technique can recover Thomas’ crypto fortune.
“Though there are always caveats, this is not theoretical,” Unciphered’s letter states. “We can do it; we’ve done it many times before. And we can do it again.”
The company said it already has a sustainable business recovering lost cryptocurrency and would happily demonstrate its cracking abilities to Thomas risk-free.
Michaud declined to specify if Unciphered would ask for payment from Thomas to complete the job. But the firm appears intent on unlocking the bitcoin regardless.
“We’re prepared if Stefan doesn’t want to work with us, but we’re hopeful,” said Michaud. “We already have a growing business, and we’ll be here when he’s ready.”