A Usability Evaluation of Tor Launcher (PETS ’17)

Although Tor has state-of-the art anti-censorship measures, users in heavily censored environments will likely not be able to connect to Tor because they cannot make the correct decisions during the configuration process. We perform the first usability evaluation of Tor Launcher, the graphical user interface (GUI) that Tor Browser uses to configure connections to Tor. Our study shows that 79% (363 of 458) of user attempts to connect to Tor in censored environments failed. We found that users were often frustrated during the process and try options at random. In this paper, we describe how we measured potential usability issues, discuss design constraints unique to Tor, and provide recommendations based on what we learned to help more users connect to Tor while reducing the time they take to do so. Tor Browser 4.5 incorporated the changes proposed by this study.

Linda Lee, David Fifield, Nathan Malkin, Ganesh Iyer, Serge Egelman, and David Wagner. A Usability Evaluation of Tor Launcher. Proceedings on Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PoPETS) 2017.3, pp. 87–106.

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