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People Who Can't Remember Their Bitcoin Passwords Are Really Freaking Out Now ( 202

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Slate: Bitcoin has had quite a week. On Thursday, the cryptocurrency surged past $19,000 a coin before dropping down to $15,600 by Friday midday. The price of a single Bitcoin was below $1,000 in January. Any investors who bought Bitcoins back in 2013, when the price was less than $100, probably feel pretty smart right now. But not all early cryptocurrency enthusiasts are counting their coins. Instead they might be racking their brains trying to remember their passwords, without which those few Bitcoins they bought as an experiment a few years ago could be locked away forever. That's because Bitcoin's decentralization relies on cryptography, where each transaction is signed with an identifier assigned to the person paying and the person receiving Bitcoin.

"I've tried to ignore the news about Bitcoin completely," joked Alexander Halavais, a professor of social technology at Arizona State University, who said he bought $70 of Bitcoin about seven years as a demonstration for a graduate class he was teaching at the time but has since forgotten his password. "I really don't want to know what it's worth now," he told me. "This is possibly $400K and I'm freaking the fuck out. I'm a college student so this would change my life lmao," wrote one Reddit user last week. The user claimed to have bought 40 bitcoins in 2013 but can't remember the password now. "A few years ago, I bought about 20 euros worth of bitcoin, while it was at around 300eur/btc.," lamented another Reddit user earlier this week. "Haven't looked at it since, and recently someone mentioned the price had hit 10.000usd. So, I decided to take a look at my wallet, but found that it wasn't my usual password. I have tried every combination of the password variations I usually use, but none of them worked."

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People Who Can't Remember Their Bitcoin Passwords Are Really Freaking Out Now

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  • to remember.

    • Re:hypnosis (Score:5, Funny)

      by Orgasmatron ( 8103 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @12:09AM (#55705081)

      I tried hypnosis. It didn't work. My hypnotherapist's new boat is nice though.

    • Because my bitcoin collection is now worth $5.00. Still wasn’t worth the return with the couple of hours on clicking links. Back a few years ago.

  • Password cracking (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sinij ( 911942 ) on Friday December 08, 2017 @11:40PM (#55705013)
    I guess there is now a legitimate use for password cracking. If you have couple mil worth of bitcoins but locked out, hire people doing password cracking for living and train the system with your existing passwords. In practice, people use similar passwords and similar password setting techniques.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      In practice, people use similar passwords and similar password setting techniques.

      dd if=/dev/urandom count=1 | base64

      Also works against $5 wrench cryptanalysis.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      There are already bitcoin wallet recovery services (in fact I believe one of them is something like with an excellent track record.

      You give them your passwords you remember, and they bash at the wallet using variations on your password themes. They keep a portion of the proceeds.

      Legit services, too.

    • by Megol ( 3135005 )

      How I create new passwords:
      Look around me, papers and books, signs. Names from foreign countries are often a good source (unusual letter combinations). Cola bottle on the table? More indata. Select letters from the source data as random as possible. Take numbers, EAN codes, etc. Mix. Capitalize letters as randomly as possible.
      At least 8 alphanumeric characters are needed, more is better.

      It's of course not as secure as a true random number but secure enough that cracking them would be very hard. PITA to reme

  • Slashdot: Bitcoin, Network Neutrality and mdsolar's rants. Oh, and occasionally a story about Apple or Tesla.

  • Mixed sympathy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kjella ( 173770 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @12:25AM (#55705119) Homepage

    The professor that spent $70? Tough luck, almost like buying a winning lottery ticket and losing it. The guy who bought 20*300 = 6000 euro worth of bitcoins and couldn't be bothered to remember/store the password? Moron. Personally I'm kicking myself for not getting in on this early, because it sounded interesting to me but then I tried to step outside my nerd bubble and thought nah, this will just be some weird nerd thing that "normal people" won't ever get in on. You feel a bit like the guy who turned down the Beatles, like who'd ever want that? Quite a few, it turns out...

    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      The guy who bought 20*300 = 6000 euro worth of bitcoins and couldn't be bothered to remember/store the password? Moron.

      Reading comprehension fail, 20 euro worth of BTC != 20 BTC. So he lost 0.15 BTC = $1500, it's money I guess but not exactly the lottery jackpot.

    • If he chose a password for a demo, that’s likely an easy one.
  • by leonbev ( 111395 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @12:34AM (#55705153) Journal

    Back in the day, the only places that I used for exchanging Bitcoin with other cryptocurrencies were sites like Mt. Gox and BTC-E. They both got busted by the feds for various criminal activities, so there is no active account left to log into.

    I believe that the mining pools got hacked as well, so there isn't much hope checking if any residual balances left in those accounts as well.

    Man... the security of the various Bitcoin exchanges sites really sucked back then. I wonder if it's really better now, or the next big hack is right around the corner.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      There was a major split in Ethereum because one group realized there was a theoretical vulnerability in the protocols that would allow someone to raid other wallets. That was the reason for the split. Then the original founders attempted to bridge this fork by reunifying the two blockchains, but without fixing the original issue.

      I personally don't trust anything that makes use of RPC calls or requires server processes to run.

  • While those Bitcoins are worth "something", the trick is all in cashing out and actually getting the money that people claim it is worth. If you can cash out, all's great. Otherwise it is just worthless numbers.

    This strikes me as the time in the tulip futures to cash out.
    • I "cashed out" a bitcoin last week, put down a 4x payment on my mortgage for this month.

      You do realize that hundreds of millions of dollars are traded every day on the cryprocurrency exchanges, right ?

      Go to (to pluck an example out of the air), log into your account. Do the 2FA thing with your cell phone. Type in how many btc or LTC or ETH you want to sell, wait a few days, and it appears in your bank account. It's easier than setting up a wire transfer...

  • password manager (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cats-paw ( 34890 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @12:47AM (#55705177) Homepage

    seriously, how do you get through life without one ?
    would have solved this problem very nicely.

    • because you fail to make an entry into that thinking it's not worth it.
    • I have one, but I forgot the master password.

    • I store my infrequently used passwords in plain text along with clue words to their applicability in a file with a ridiculous name and a fake file extension in an obscure directory.
      If someone goes through the effort of breaking into my house then into my computer then sifting through thousands of files, good luck to them; they can keep whatever they find.

  • Do you remember when you had all that cash in your wallet but couldn't remember how to take it out? Or when your debit card stopped working and you lost your entire bank balance forever?

    Bitcoin is such a revolutionary technology if you're looking for unique ways for your average person to lose access to their own wealth.

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      Yes, I have a bank that is so security conscious, that if I use a cash machine that isn't part of my regular routine or even use EBay, they freeze the account until I call in and confirm that it was me making the purchase. One time, that involves a 45 minute wait in the pissing rain at a gas station.

      • >Yes, I have a bank that is so security conscious, that if I use a cash machine that isn't part of my regular routine or even use EBay, they freeze the account until I call in and confirm that it was me making the purchase.

        So no you don't, because you actually got your access back.

        This isn't a particularly complicated concept.

    • I remember relative losing her money that was in a bank account she forgot about, law says money is foreited after period of inactivity.

  • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <markt@nerdflat . c om> on Saturday December 09, 2017 @01:13AM (#55705227) Journal
    If it wasn't checked in years, and all of the permutations of possible passwords don't work, maybe somebody hacked it in the interim, and the coins are gone anyways.
  • by SensitiveMale ( 155605 ) on Saturday December 09, 2017 @01:19AM (#55705241)

    It really is that simple.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Now where did I put that slip of paper ten years ago...?

    • I encrypt my passwords with PGP, print them out (encrypted), store a file (encrypted) on different cloud services and a few other dittys I'll just keep to myself.

      • I PGP'd all my passwords ten years ago.
        They were all super long and difficult to remember.
        So long as I remembered my PGP password, I'd be in good shape.
        Unfortunately, I made my PGP pass phrase super long and difficult to remember.
        Well: I lost all of my passwords.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    You remember your password, and that 100 BTC you have is now worth a theoretical $1.5 mil or more. Good luck doing anything with it.

    Whether by design or happenstance, Bitcoin has been rendered useless by the small group of people who have been guiding it, namely the ones who call themselves Bitcoin Core (sounds all official and shit, huh? It's really not.) They fought tooth and nail to make BTC unscalable and really helped turn the legacy Bitcoin chain into the clusterfuck that it is today. Remember all tha

  • One where the transactions are verified, through the time consuming task of cracking forgotten passwords on old Bitcoin wallets.
  • If it costs $85,000 worth of electricity to mine a wallet with 3 million dollars worth of coins?

  • That I even had this problem in he first case. This is one tech bubble I wasnâ(TM)t on the bleeding edge, I am shut out.

    Hereâ(TM)s a question for those familiar with BTC...can you purchase fractional BTC on exchanges? If so, I would assume the easiest path would be to accept fractional BTC payments in lieu of standard cash for goods and services. And, how is that not bartering in the eyes of the tax law?

    Seriously...just wondering how to get in on this now.

    • Here's a question for those familiar with BTC... can you purchase fractional BTC on exchanges?

      Long version: if you ask this question then you need to read more about Bitcoin.
      Short version: The smallest unit of Bitcoin is 0.00000001 Bitcoin (a.k.a. 1 satoshi)

  • No worries [], your bitcoins are in a safe place now. Sorted.
  • Yeah i mined a few bitcoins perhaps 4, back when bitcoins were worth 30 cents and prompty forgot about it.

    I am now using testdisk on some old hard drives trying to find my wallet.dat. no luck so far!

    Its funny because i usually keep my entire appdata structure between computers, but i have no bitcoin folder that i can find, and i have only had 2 computers between 2009 and now. Maybe i hallucinated mining those coins? so much can happen in 8 years...

    i can see why people are madly looking through thrift stores

  • I had a Bitcoin once, when the Bitcoin Faucet was generous. One day I was like "I'm not doing this. I can lose the Bitcoin or give it to somebody else". At least I hope FSF got it, as their bitcoin address came from cached Google results. They had a period where they thought receiving Bitcoin donations was bad and took the address down from their website.

  • The other problem is that it's so difficult to extract keys from an old copy of wallet.dat. The stock Bitcoin client that should be able to read it requires a ~150GB download (not necessary for cloud-computing), rather than giving a very trivial tool that allows exporting these addresses into another application. It's as if the developers want to secure the file, without it actually being secure.

    One other client crashed when trying to read wallet.dat. It must be getting snagged on some pattern of bits, as i

  • ... to one of our colleages, as a paper-wallet. Was worth ~ 60 Euros back then. Our colleage didn't make use of it, but when we asked him about this last month, he did look where he stashed it, and luckily, found the paper wallet after some hours of searching. Turns out to have been a valuable gift, after all :-)

Computers are unreliable, but humans are even more unreliable. Any system which depends on human reliability is unreliable. -- Gilb