For $2, this 11-year-old girl will create you a virtually uncrackable password.

Think you shouldn't leave your online security up to a roll of the dice? This 11-year-old says otherwise.

Photo via Julia Angwin, used with permission.


Meet Mira, a sixth-grader in New York City who enjoys gymnastics, dancing, and, oh yeah, sticking it to would-be cyber-attackers.

Mira is the driving force behind Diceware Passwords, a clever service that builds you your very own, ultra-secure password for just $2.

Diceware builds passwords by, you guessed it, literally rolling dice. Photo by Joe Christian Oterhals/Flickr.

A lot people think the strongest passwords are long strings of random numbers, letters, and symbols, like $%hf73afd#3. But random gibberish like that is almost impossible to remember. You might even be tempted to write it down somewhere (raise your hand in shame in you have a sticky note above your computer with all of your passwords on it), which of course defeats the entire purpose.

The Diceware system uses actual dice to create wacky looking passwords like "cleft cam synod lacy yr wok."

Designed by Arnold G. Reinhold in 1995, Diceware creates "passphrases," or strings of six completely random words from the dictionary. Five-digit numbers created by rolling a die five times correspond to items from a master list of over 7,000 uncommon English words. Rinse and repeat to create the full passphrase.

Behold: random words! Photo by Chris Halderman/Flickr.

It's a little odd, but super effective. Diceware passwords are nearly impossible to crack, but surprisingly they aren't all that hard for humans to remember. If yours were "cleft cam synod lacy yr wok," for example, just imagine a musical clam wearing lacy underwear, being cooked in a wok. Now you've got a password you are't likely to forget anytime soon.

Still, this isn't exactly the most practical method in the world. And that's where Mira comes in.

She first learned about the method while her mom was doing research for a book on cybersecurity. Now, she does all the legwork for people who want a strong password but don't have the time, including rolling the dice herself to create a custom password for each customer. She then mails the password out in an adorable handwritten letter, which, by the way, is way more secure than email. (On her website, Mira reminds customers that U.S. mail can only be opened with a search warrant.)

Sounds legit to me.

Photo via Julia Angwin, used with permission.

Mira's generation will be one of the first to have nearly their entire lives documented online.

Kids start using the Internet really early these days. Photo by Franklin Park Library/Flickr.

They'll grow up with nearly every photo of them ever taken living on Instagram or Facebook. Every interaction with a friend stored inside email or some messaging app. Their entire financial lives documented from the moment they earn their first dollar.

But Mira isn't so sure young people understand the gravity of that.

She told Ars Technica, "This whole concept of making your own passwords and being super secure and stuff, I don't think my friends understand that."

And she's right, but it's not just young people. Turns out, all of us are pretty terrible at creating our own passwords. According to Gizmodo, five of the top 10 most common passwords in 2014 were variations on "1234." The second-most-common password: "password."

Good job, everyone.

Hopefully, Mira's story will get people of all ages thinking more about what we're doing to stay safe online.

She may only be able to roll so many dice in a day, but by setting a good example for her peers (and us grown-ups who have started using the same password for Instagram that we do for our online banking), she can have an even bigger impact.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Courtesy of Nextdoor

Jayden, Jayson, Jordan, Jeffery and Jared received an outpouring of support from neighbors after they came home from the NICU at almost a year old.

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When the children's hospital called Aileen's pediatric occupational therapy clinic in July of 2020, the clinic was closed due to pandemic lockdowns. The hospital informed her that a set of quintuplet baby brothers had been born in November of 2019 and would be in need of her services once they were released. Would she be able to help?

Aileen often gets direct referrals from the hospital for families with special conditions, and premature quintuplets who spent their first year of life receiving oxygen and feeding through tubes certainly fit that bill. She decided to open her clinic specifically for the babies and their mother, Jackie. As the babies were released, they came to Aileen for ongoing occupational therapy, and by November 2020, all five boys were being cared for at the clinic.

The quintuplets stayed in the NICU for nearly a year after they were born.Courtesy of Nextdoor

Jackie is a single mom who moved to the U.S. from Ghana a couple of years ago. She lives with her mom and aunt in the Atlanta area and also has another son, Daniel, who was 3 years old when the boys came home from the hospital. With a preschooler and five babies needing medical care, Jackie definitely needed more help than her family and church could provide, but she was too shy to ask for it. Eventually, she confided in Aileen that she could use help with diapers. Even with one baby, diapers are expensive; keeping up with five at once would be overwhelming.

Aileen contacted local aid organizations who normally have diapers to offer, but they were all in short supply due to the pandemic. So she decided to reach out to her neighbors instead.

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!