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Man Forgets Password, White Hat Hacker Helps Recover $3 Million in Bitcoin from 11-Year-Old Wallet

The man, who put 41.6 Bitcoins in an online wallet in 2013, had lost the password and access to it.
Photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin | Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot
Photo illustration of the digital Cryptocurrency, Bitcoin | Getty Images | Photo by Chesnot

Imagine losing your crypto wallet password in 2013 and watching Bitcoin scale new heights. However, this story recently got its happy ending as electrical engineer Joe Grand cracked the forgotten password to recover the 43.6 long-lost Bitcoin. Michael, the owner of the lost treasure, got his hands back on crypto worth about $3 million after forgetting the password 11 years ago. Grand shared the story on his popular YouTube channel.


At a time when crypto was in its nascent stages, Michael managed to get his hands on some Bitcoin. In a bid to protect it with all his might, he turned to RoboForm, a password manager which creates unique random passwords that are encrypted using TrueCrypt.


Unfortunately, the encrypted password file got corrupted, and there was no backup. Michael didn’t store the password in RoboForm as he was afraid it could be hacked or stolen. However, as time went on, Michael completely forgot his password. The only detail he remembered was that it was a 20-character password with uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

“At this time I was like okay crap a couple of thousand euros which was painful but okay,” Michael said in the video. He then saw the price of the Bitcoin rally and realized that his wallet was going for a multimillion evaluation with 41.6 Bitcoin.


In 2022, Michael came across a story, where Grand helped a crypto owner recover access to over $2 million in cryptocurrency. He got his hopes up and contacted the hacker for help.


Grand is an electrical engineer who started working with hardware at age 10. In 2008, he appeared as a co-host on Discovery Channel’s “Prototype This!” show. He now works as a security consultant for companies that build complex digital systems and helps them understand how hardware hackers work.

According to Kim Zetter for Wired, Grand initially turned down Michael as his main job involved hardware and Michael had used a software crypto wallet.

Michael approached Grand again a year later. This time, the electrical engineer decided to give it a shot. He soon started working on it along with a German colleague Bruno.

After months of hard work, the hackers reverse-engineered the old version of the RoboForm software. They then discovered a security flaw in the application and learned that the passwords generated by it weren’t that random after all. They found that the passwords were tied to the date and time they were generated. However, Michael did not remember that either.

All they had was the year, 2013, when the password was generated. Grand then turned to a tool that is used by the US National Security Agency to disassemble the password generator’s code. The hacker tricked the system by changing the time back to 2013.


Joe and Bruno worked together to generate millions of potential passwords, and after a few failed attempts, they finally recreated Michael’s password.