Peeling the onion’s user experience layer: Examining naturalistic use of the Tor Browser

Kevin Gallagher, Sameer Patil, Brendan Dolan-Gavitt, Damon McCoy, Nasir Memon

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The strength of an anonymity system depends on the number of users. Therefore, User eXperience (UX) and usability of these systems is of critical importance for boosting adoption and use. To this end, we carried out a study with 19 non-expert participants to investigate how users experience routine Web browsing via the Tor Browser, focusing particularly on encountered problems and frustrations. Using a mixed-methods quantitative and qualitative approach to study one week of naturalistic use of the Tor Browser, we uncovered a variety of UX issues, such as broken Web sites, latency, lack of common browsing conveniences, differential treatment of Tor traffic, incorrect geolocation, operational opacity, etc. We applied this insight to suggest a number of UX improvements that could mitigate the issues and reduce user frustration when using the Tor Browser.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCCS 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Pages1290-1305
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781450356930
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2018
Event25th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2018 - Toronto, Canada
Duration: Oct 15 2018 → …

Other

Other25th ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security, CCS 2018
CountryCanada
CityToronto
Period10/15/18 → …

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Keywords

  • Anonymity
  • Privacy
  • Tor
  • Tor Browser
  • Usability
  • User experience
  • UX

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Networks and Communications

Cite this

Gallagher, K., Patil, S., Dolan-Gavitt, B., McCoy, D., & Memon, N. (2018). Peeling the onion’s user experience layer: Examining naturalistic use of the Tor Browser. In CCS 2018 - Proceedings of the 2018 ACM SIGSAC Conference on Computer and Communications Security (pp. 1290-1305). Association for Computing Machinery. https://doi.org/10.1145/3243734.3243803