For a world that runs on passwords, most of us really don't know how to manage them. We’re bad at keeping track of them, bad about diversifying, bad about updating and safeguarding them—we’re bad at all of it. Thankfully, there’s an 11-year-old in New York who can help.
Mira Modi is the sixth grader who started dicewarepasswords.com, a one-girl business operation that generates cryptographically secure passwords for $2 a pop. When you place the order, Modi creates a six-word password using Diceware, a system in which you roll an actual die to get a set of random numbers that correspond to a word. In the end, you’ve created a series of words that make no sense as a sentence or phrase, but are very tough for a hacker to crack. Best of all, they're easier to recall than, say, a string of letters, numbers, and punctuation.
To keep things as secure as possible, Modi then sends the password via snail mail. It comes handwritten in a white envelope. She doesn’t keep a copy of it, so once the password is in your mailbox, you have the only documentation.
The business started with Modi’s mother, Julia Angwin, who’s a journalist and author of Dragnet Nation: A Quest for Privacy, Security, and Freedom in a World of Relentless Surveillance. Modi helped her mom with the book by generating Diceware passwords, and then decided to try to make a business of it. She started selling her custom passwords at book events, but expanded to an online store to boost sales.
"This whole concept of making your own passwords and being super secure and stuff, I don’t think my friends understand that, but I think it’s cool," Modi told Ars Technica.
They also contacted the creator of Diceware, Arnold Reinold, to get his reaction to Modi's burgeoning business: "I am tickled to hear this, and no, I haven’t heard of anything like it before," he said.