The Corner

Science & Tech

So You Think You Have Password Problems?

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What if forgetting your password for a website could cost you $200 million? That’s the situation facing a programmer living in San Francisco. From the Times:

Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer living in San Francisco, has two guesses left to figure out a password that is worth, as of this week, about $220 million.

The password will let him unlock a small hard drive, known as an IronKey, which contains the private keys to a digital wallet that holds 7,002 Bitcoin. While the price of Bitcoin dropped sharply on Monday, it is still up more than 50 percent from just a month ago, when it passed its previous all-time high of around $20,000.

The problem is that Mr. Thomas years ago lost the paper where he wrote down the password for his IronKey, which gives users 10 guesses before it seizes up and encrypts its contents forever. He has since tried eight of his most commonly used password formulations — to no avail.

Thomas has been lying in bed for nights — wouldn’t you? — trying to remember. I’m thinking this is a great Adam Sandler comedy in the making. Possibly with Drew Barrymore as his shrink, helping guide him through the various key events and salient memories of his life, trying to decipher his own subconscious, leading him on his last try to save his fortune by figuring out his own “Rosebud.” Or Bosco.