Recovering lost Bitcoins is almost impossible. However, we found out one case, when an early crypto investor Mike Stay hacked the file and got his cryptocurrency back. Mike Stay is a doctorate in computer science and an expert in cryptography. He published an article about hacking an encrypted zip file in which keys from Bitcoin wallets were stored. He was asked to do this by an anonymous client who bought cryptocurrency back in 2016 but forgot the password to the archive with the keys.
Stay was able to crack the zip file and thereby restored for the crypto enthusiast access to his address with coins worth 300 thousand dollars at the current rate. That’s how it was.
Mike Stay Case
Stay became interested in cryptography back in the nineties. Then he published several research papers on this topic. His anonymous client discovered these papers and decided to contact an expert. Here is a quote from Mike, in which he talked about what happened.
In January 2016, a client bought bitcoins in the amount of 10 to 15 thousand dollars and saved the keys to the wallet in an encrypted zip file. After the cost of coins increased to 300 thousand dollars, he decided to sell bitcoins, but the password for the archive was lost. Fortunately, the laptop with the file itself remained with the client, in addition, he remembered exactly when the archive was encrypted.
When encrypting the archive using InfoZip, the date was taken into account, so the client helped reduce the number of possible passwords to just 10 quintillions. In this case, it is quite possible to choose the right combination. As a result, the problem was solved using a conventional mining farm with video cards.
According to Stay, his experience in cryptography has helped to reduce the working time from several months to several days.
Unfortunately, a lot more people still can’t regain access to their bitcoins. According to some estimates, up to 25 percent of coins mined are lost forever. They will never be moved from their wallets again. Nevertheless, a couple of extra bitcoins would not hurt anyone.
This case is one of the very rare circumstances in which people manage to find their bitcoins. Usually, passwords are irrevocably forgotten, flash drives with keys are accidentally thrown away, and paper wallets are lost. As a result, this situation emphasizes the importance of the responsible storage of passwords and keys. In fact, only these combinations of symbols connect the crypto investor with its assets, so they must be handled with extreme care.
How Long Does it Take to Pick Up a Private Key of a Bitcoin Wallet?
A private key is a 256-digit number that can also be represented as a 64-digit hexadecimal key. The Better Buys website has a service with which you can check the complexity of your password. What if you enter a private key there and find out how long it will take for hackers to pick up the password for all your bitcoins?
Indeed, we only learn on the site that it is impossible to crack your private key with a simple selection.
How to Recover a Seed Phrase
How many of us know the private keys of our wallets by heart? Some wallets do not even provide private keys themselves, instead, they give out seed phrases with which you can restore your wallet in case of unforeseen circumstances. As a rule, seed phrases consist of 12-16 words that users are encouraged to write down on a piece of paper and store in some safe place. It’s impossible to pick up the seed phrase consisting of 12-16 random words.
We all wrote down the seeds on a piece of paper, put them in a safe or in a bank cell and sit satisfied, being confident in the safety of our bitcoins. However, you must always remember that you can crack the wallet on the other hand.
Almost all of us have wallets installed on a computer or smartphone. You can open them with the simplest password, and sometimes with a fingerprint. In turn, hardware cryptocurrency wallets are in most cases protected by a 4-digit PIN code. And how long does it take to steal your bitcoins?
The selection of a 4-digit PIN code requires no more than 5 milliseconds. However, this is provided if you have an infinite number of attempts to try the next combination of numbers.
The Better Buys service even allows you to go back in time to evaluate the technical capabilities for hacking at that point in time. For example, in 1992, breaking a PIN code would take a little more – about 3.5 minutes. Here, it is only encouraging that a restriction on the number of attempts was included in this protection mechanism.
As for passwords, a string of 7 random digits can be picked up in half a millisecond. If you add at least one letter to this line, then the hacking period immediately increases to 5 hours. If you use a password of 12 random letters, then it will take 2 centuries to crack it, even taking into account the most modern technologies.
Another way to increase password complexity is to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
The most important thing to take out of this article: despite the relative invulnerability of private keys and seed passwords of Bitcoin wallets, you should always remember about the privacy.
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