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.

True

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!

This article originally appeared on 12.02.19


Just imagine being an 11-year-old boy who's been shuffled through the foster care system. No forever home. No forever family. No idea where you'll be living or who will take care of you in the near future.

Then, a loving couple takes you under their care and chooses to love you forever.

What could one be more thankful for?

That's why when a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School in Cedar Hills, Utah was asked by his substitute teacher what he's thankful for this Thanksgiving, he said finally being adopted by his two dads.

via OD Action / Twitter

To the child's shock, the teacher replied, "that's nothing to be thankful for," and then went on a rant in front of 30 students saying that "two men living together is a sin" and "homosexuality is wrong."

While the boy sat there embarrassed, three girls in the class stood up for him by walking out of the room to tell the principal. Shortly after, the substitute was then escorted out of the building.

While on her way out she scolded the boy, saying it was his fault she was removed.

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One of the boy's parents-to-be is Louis van Amstel, is a former dancer on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars." "It's absolutely ridiculous and horrible what she did," he told The Salt Lake Tribune. "We were livid. It's 2019 and this is a public school."

The boy told his parents-to-be he didn't speak up in the classroom because their final adoption hearing is December 19 and he didn't want to do anything that would interfere.

He had already been through two failed adoptions and didn't want it to happen again.

via Loren Javier / Flickr

A spokesperson for the Alpine School District didn't go into detail about the situation but praised the students who spoke out.

"Fellow students saw a need, and they were able to offer support," David Stephenson said. "It's awesome what happened as far as those girls coming forward."

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He also said that "appropriate action has been taken" with the substitute teacher.

"We are concerned about any reports of inappropriate behavior and take these matters very seriously," Kelly Services, the school the contracts out substitute teachers for the district, said in a statement. "We conduct business based on the highest standards of integrity, quality, and professional excellence. We're looking into this situation."

After the incident made the news, the soon-to-be adoptive parents' home was covered in paper hearts that said, "We love you" and "We support you."

Religion is supposed to make us better people.

But what have here is clearly a situation where a woman's judgement about what is good and right was clouded by bigoted dogma. She was more bothered by the idea of two men loving each other than the act of pure love they committed when choosing to adopt a child.