But when a news organization as reputable as 60 Minutes describes the Dark Web as "a vast, secret, cyber underworld" that accounts for "90% of the Internet," it's time for a refresher.
The Dark Web isn't particularly vast, it's not 90% percent of the Internet, and it's not even particularly secret. In fact, the Dark Web is a collection of websites that are publicly visible, yet hide the IP addresses of the servers that run them. That means anyone can visit a Dark Web site, but it can be very difficult to figure out where they're hosted—or by whom.
Hiding in plain sight
The majority of Dark Web sites use the anonymity software Tor, though a smaller number also use a similar tool called I2P. Both of those systems encrypt web traffic in layers and bounce it through randomly-chosen computers around the world, each of which removes a single layer of encryption before passing the data on to its next hop in the network. In theory, that prevents any spy—even one who controls one of those computers in the encrypted chain—from matching the traffic's origin with its destination.