A crypto recovery firm, Unciphered, has written an open letter to former Ripple Chief Technology Officer, Stefan Thomas, to unlock a hard drive that he owns containing over 7,000 Bitcoin.
The IronKey hard drive, which Thomas possesses, holds 7,002 BTC, equivalent to approximately $244 million.
Unfortunately, Thomas has forgotten the means to access the drive, which is designed to erase its contents after ten incorrect password attempts.
As of now, he has exhausted eight of these attempts.
The IronKey is a secure FIPS-140-2 level 3 device, boasting a security level on par with devices used to safeguard sensitive government information.
Dubbed “Project Everest” by Unciphered, this cryptocurrency recovery platform successfully reverse-engineered the inter-chip communication protocols, the controller’s firmware, cryptographic implementation details, and comprehensively understood the IronKey’s functionality.
A report by technology magazine Wired on October 24 revealed that the company managed to access data on a similar IronKey after a staggering “200 trillion tries,” effectively bypassing the ten-attempt limitation imposed by the device.
Despite the open letter to Thomas, the Ripple CTO seems uninterested in Unciphered’s offer.
They had engaged with Thomas through a mutual associate who could vouch for the company’s capabilities in unlocking IronKeys.
Nevertheless, the discussion did not progress to the point of considering Unciphered’s commission or fee.
Thomas politely declined.
Reportedly, Thomas had previously made a “handshake deal” with two other cracking teams a year earlier.
In an effort to avoid competition between them, he offered each team a share of the proceeds if either could successfully unlock the drive.
Even a year later, he remains committed to providing these teams with additional time to solve the problem, although neither has shown any progress in decrypting the drive, unlike Unciphered, who has successfully cracked the IronKey.
Nick Fedoroff, Unciphered’s director of operations, stated:
“We cracked the IronKey. Now we have to crack Stefan. This is turning out to be the hardest part.”