Cryptographic Expert Cracks Encrypted File With $300,000 in Bitcoin After Password Was Lost

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  • A man lost the password to an encrypted file with USD 300,000 of Bitcoin, but a cryptographic expert was able to unlock it

A man purchased USD 10,000 to USD 15,000 of Bitcoin in 2016, and the price of the Bitcoin he owned rose to USD 300,000 over the years, but he lost his password. Usually this would be the end of a very sad Bitcoin tale, but in this case the man hired a cryptographic expert named Mike Stay who was able to break into the file and recover the Bitcoin.

Mike Stay had been an expert in cryptography and cracking into encrypted files for many years, and wrote a paper 19 years ago about breaking into a certain encrypted file, which was the exact sort of file that the man had put his Bitcoin in. The man saw this paper and reached out to Mike Stay.

It took weeks to get the algorithms right, and to set up a graphics processing unit (GPU) farm to provide the processing power needed to crack the file, but once it was setup correctly it took less than a day to recover the USD 300,000 of Bitcoin. Some factors that helped were that the man had the exact laptop used to originally encrypt the file, and knew the exact time of the encryption, which lowered the entropy of the encryption.

Thus, this story perhaps provides hope to people who are in a similar situation where they lost the password to a file which contains Bitcoin keys, since apparently it is possible to unlock an encrypted file with the right algorithms and enough processing power.

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