[ux] New Me: Understanding Expert and Non-Expert Perceptions and Usage of the Tor Anonymity Network

David Fifield david at bamsoftware.com
Sat Jul 29 05:30:03 UTC 2017

	Proper use of an anonymity system requires adequate
	understanding of how it functions. Yet, there is surprisingly
	little research that looks into user understanding and usage of
	anonymity software. Improper use stemming from a lack of
	sufficient knowledge of the system has the potential to lead to
	deanonymization, which may hold severe personal consequences for
	the user. We report on the understanding and the use of the Tor
	anonymity system. Via semistructured interviews with 17
	individuals (6 experts and 11 non-experts) we found that experts
	and non-experts view, understand, and use Tor in notably
	different ways. Moreover, both groups exhibit behavior as well
	as gaps in understanding that could potentially compromise
	anonymity. Based on these findings, we provide several
	suggestions for improving the user experience of Tor to
	facilitate better user understanding of its operation, threat
	model, and limitations.

A nice research paper from SOUPS this year. Some of their observations
are "Experts view Tor as a complex network; Non-experts treat Tor as a
service", "Experts mostly grasp the threat model; Non-experts conflate
threat models."

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