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A Password Worth $220 Million and How to Never Forget a Password Again

Chad Hammond

We all know how annoying it can be when a forgotten password keeps you from accessing your email, bank, or any other online account. Not to mention the frustrating and time-consuming password resets. For Bitcoin investors, however, forgetting a password right as the crypto market is booming is a whole different story. A story that can put generational wealth at stake.

The New York Times reports that a San Francisco-based programmer Stefan Thomas has only two guesses left to figure out a crucial string of characters worth about $220 million as of that week. Years ago, Stefan lost a piece of paper where he wrote down the password for the hard drive that stores the private keys to a digital wallet with 7,002 Bitcoin.

It’s beyond difficult to even try to imagine what that must feel like. Add the fact that resetting a password is out of the question for Bitcoin owners because the blockchain has no central company or database that stores or manages passwords, and you’ve got a nightmare of a situation. All of this thanks to a poorly stored password, since it seems that the password worth a whopping $220 million was a strong one (or, at least, difficult to remember).

Why do we forget passwords?

The simple answer is we're human, and it's a human thing to forget things. Some of us can't even remember what we had for breakfast. And pretty much everyone can attest to the fact that remembering long and complex strings of characters is hard.

However, when it comes to passwords, the likelihood of you forgetting it depends not so much on its complexity but its usage rate. It turns out that you are more likely to remember a long, complicated password if you happen to use it regularly. It makes sense, doesn't it?

In Stefan Thomas’s case, it seems that he didn't use the password frequently and didn't store it securely, as noted in The New York Times. As to why, we can only speculate, yet his story is a prime example of learning from others' mistakes.

Reusing passwords is a dangerous habit

It’s crucial to note that using a single password, even if it’s a complex one, for all your online accounts is not the best of ideas. It might seem like a good way to solve the problem of forgotten passwords, but, in reality, it is a colossal cybersecurity risk. Having a single password means having a single point of failure.

Think of it this way: it’s like having one key to unlock every door you use. Sounds scary? That’s because it is. Nowadays, having your data breached is comparable to having your house robbed. We all know this, so the trick is to take cybersecurity seriously every step of the way.

How to never forget a password again

Our recent study has revealed that today an average internet user has around 100 passwords for various online services. The number has increased by 25%, compared to 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, which moved most of our lives online.

Remembering 100 different passwords is not realistic unless you possess photographic memory. There are many ways to store passwords. Sure, you can write them down on a piece of paper, though Stefan Thomas probably wouldn’t recommend that. Keeping passwords in a browser is another way, but not all browsers have the necessary security built in to protect them adequately.

Choosing a password manager such as NordPass to protect your passwords is your best bet. With NordPass, you don’t need to memorize tens of dozens of passwords. In fact, you don’t even need to know what the passwords are. Nor do you need to type any of them, as NordPass saves your time by automatically filling in login details and prompts you to autosave new passwords with just a few clicks. Surely, Stefan would’ve loved to have a password manager at hand when he received the 7,002 Bitcoin that unfortunately remains locked away.

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