Go Stand In The Corner: How To Lose $257 Million

We’ve all heard about cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, and how the value of them has been fluctuating, leading to some pretty wealthy individuals walking around out there. Bitcoin accounts are secured, as is practically everything, by a user-defined password. Lose it, and you lose access to whatever it protected.

Today, I read the story of Stefan Thomas, who tells the New York Times that he’s accumulated 7,002 Bitcoins, which at today’s current price of $36,664.59 is valued at $257 million. The problem is, he’s forgotten the password to his account, and only has 2 more attempts to remember it. If he screws both of them up, he loses every penny of it.

The article goes on to say that this is a fairly common problem, with people losing their passwords and being unable to access their money. Or worse, using weak passwords that are easy for hackers to figure out and losing their money that way. One such hacker has made off with $54 million. It’s created a whole industry for cybersecurity experts that can help these now-wealthy individuals get back at their money, which must cost a pretty penny.

All of that could have been avoided if Stefan and the other people used a password manager, like LastPass or 1Password. They can generate secure passwords and store them, as well as user ID’s and any other information they might need to access their account. They’re inexpensive (particularly to someone with $257 million), reliable, and secure. If that’s too hard, maybe they could write the password in the margin of a book, or keep it in a note in Evernote (keeping it separate from the user ID and any other information they would need to sign in).

Anyway, Stefan and any other Bitcoin millionaire who’s forgotten the password to their wallet: Go stand in the corner, and see if you can remember your password.

13 thoughts on “Go Stand In The Corner: How To Lose $257 Million

  1. Wow! Hadn’t heard about him. There’s no option to “reset password”? Seems crazy there’s no other way of accessing, but… pen and paper, people! Pen and paper shaking head

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    1. The nature of what the password protects (i.e. $257 million) makes it difficult to reset the password without some form of human intervention (they want to be sure that the person requesting the new password is the person who actually owns the account). So you are correct in saying they need to write it down, which he probably did and then lost the piece of paper it was on. If it were me, I’d want to have the password in a password manager as well as written down on a page of a book, on a notebook locked in a safe, and probably tattooed on my arm.

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    1. The thing that really got me was that he’s a systems engineer. They’re usually bordering on anal with passwords. Even “lost it” doesn’t cut it: something that important gets written down and locked in a safe. Dumb, dumb, dumb…

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  2. I think more people need to write again and I would start with a pen and paper. I heard about this man forgetting his pin# and I would be so pissed off but I would find a way.

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  3. Hi John – didn’t twig the first time I looked at he headline … now I just realised … poor chap: I do feel for him … but might teach us all a lesson.

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