Well, despite the rather obvious fact that the NSA has access to the haystack — a euphemism for all web communications — it still relies on hackers to find the needle.
That's because the web is largely still encrypted.
Recent stories have indicated that the NSA has pulled out all stops to degrade encryption — putting plants in the right positions in the tech industry, coercing companies to insert backdoors in software and hardware, etc.
The NSA takes those routes because brute force attacks on encryption — with the NSA's super computers guessing umpteen passwords a millisecond — simply cannot keep up with current encryption technology.
Even Edward Snowden said encryption still works.