A German programmer has 2 chances to correctly guess the password to his hard drive or he'll lose $220 million

Allana Akhtar
FILE PHOTO: An employee works on Bitcoin mining computer as a PC screen shows the fluctuations in Bitcoin exchange rates at Bitminer Factory in Florence, Italy, April 6, 2018. Picture taken April 6, 2018. REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/File Photo
A bitcoin-mining computer and a screen showing bitcoin exchange rates at Bitminer Factory in Florence, Italy. Reuters

While bitcoin's price has recorded historic growth - increasing by 92% in a month and about 340% in a year - one investor is locked out of accessing his riches because he forgot his password.

Stefan Thomas, a German-born programmer in San Francisco, told The New York Times this week that he forgot the password to his IronKey, a secure hard drive with the keys to his wallet with 7,002 bitcoins, or about $220 million worth. IronKey gives users 10 guesses to get their password right before encrypting the hard drive's contents; Thomas has two more tries left.

"I would just lay in bed and think about it," Thomas told The Times' Nathaniel Popper. "Then I would go to the computer with some new strategy, and it wouldn't work, and I would be desperate again."

As some bitcoin investors get rich, others have had trouble accessing their investments because they've forgotten their passwords, The Times reported. About 20% of existing bitcoins "appear to be in lost or otherwise stranded wallets," the report said.

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Some high-profile investors remain wary of bitcoin's surge. UBS analysts said this week that cryptocurrency volatility did not make it a "suitable alternative" to safe-haven assets. And the billionaire "Bond King" Jeffrey Gundlach said bitcoin hit "bubble territory" once the price passed $23,000.

Even after sliding as much as 20% over Sunday and Monday, the price of bitcoin recovered on Tuesday, rising to about $36,000.

In a tweet on Monday, the "Shark Tank" star Mark Cuban compared the "cryptos trade" to the dot-com bubble of the 1990s.

"Watching the cryptos trade, it's EXACTLY like the internet stock bubble," Cuban said. "EXACTLY. I think btc, eth , a few others will be analogous to those that were built during the dot-com era, survived the bubble bursting and thrived, like AMZN, EBay, and Priceline. Many won't."

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