Stefan Thomas, the former Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Ripple, has made a critical decision. He has rejected a group of hackers who believe they can unlock a encrypted USB drive containing 7,002 BTC, which is currently valued at $241 million. It is known that Thomas has lost access to his crypto fortune and has only two attempts left before losing access forever.

The Current State of Bitcoins

As previously revealed, it is known that the former Ripple CTO purchased these bitcoins in 2011 while preparing an educational video about Bitcoin (BTC). He also lost the seed words that are vital for his wallet in the same year.

In 2021, when the news about the lost seed phrases first surfaced on the internet, Thomas made the following statement:

All this idea of being your own bank – let me put it this way, ‘Are you making your own shoes?’ The reason why we have banks is that we don’t want to deal with all the things that banks do.

By 2023, Unciphered, a Seattle-based startup, claimed to have found a secret technique to access Thomas’ bitcoins protected by an IronKey model. IronKeys are designed to erase their contents after ten incorrect password attempts, making access nearly impossible considering the eight previous failed attempts. However, the hackers at Unciphered stated that they could unlock an IronKey after a total of 200 trillion attempts using a high-performance computer and their proprietary techniques. Based on this, they expressed their belief that they could access Thomas’ locked USB drive.

Will the Company Convince the Former CTO?

The problem is that Thomas continues to have doubts about handing over the USB drive to the team. Having encountered similar offers in the past, Thomas had made agreements with two teams and offered them a share of the revenue if they successfully unlocked the drive. This situation seems to have put Unciphered in a difficult position. It is believed that they possess a valuable tool to unlock the IronKey but are unable to use it without permission. Thomas confirmed the statements that he rejected Unciphered’s offer and mentioned that he is managing the process with a different team of experts.

Thomas’ bitcoins, which he acquired for less than a dollar in the past, have reached a staggering price of $235 million. He also accidentally deleted the backup copies of his seed words and lost the password for the IronKey. The inaccessible fortune has been waiting for over a decade for the day when the password will be remembered.

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