Crypto security firm Unciphered has extended a lifeline to Stefan Thomas, the former CTO of Ripple, who finds himself locked out of a fortune in bitcoin. Thomas, holding 7,002 bitcoins valued at $244 million on an inaccessible hard drive, is facing a critical moment in his quest to regain access.
The Cryptocurrency Conundrum and Unciphered’s Open Letter
Thomas received these bitcoins in 2011 as payment for an educational video on bitcoin, only to lose the access code later that year. The drama unfolded when he misplaced the paper containing his IronKey password, a device allowing only 10 attempts before permanent encryption.
On October 25, Unciphered delivered a message to Thomas through an open letter, claiming they possess the technical prowess to outsmart the notorious “IronKey.” This encrypted USB device stands between Thomas and his substantial bitcoin holdings.
Unciphered’s success stories include recovering data from an IronKey similar to Thomas’s, showcasing their capabilities. The company’s founders assembled Project Everest, a team boasting expertise honed in high-profile government entities like the National Security Agency.
The Secret Cracking Technique and Thomas’s Dilemma
While Unciphered remains tight-lipped about their research methods and the technique employed to bypass the IronKey’s guess limit, they stress the importance of secrecy due to potential risks associated with exposing vulnerabilities. The outdated IronKey models they breached cannot be updated and may still harbor sensitive data.
Despite Unciphered’s offer, Thomas has thus far declined their assistance, opting instead for collaborations with cybersecurity firm Naxo and independent researcher Chris Tarnovsky. However, uncertainty looms over Naxo’s progress, and Tarnovsky awaits payment to continue his efforts.
The Waiting Game
While no success has been reported by the current teams, Thomas appears committed to giving them more leeway before seeking new aid. The possibility of subcontracting Unciphered remains open, leaving the crypto community in suspense.