The US Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has issued a response to the latest revelations from Edward Snowden with a warning that the information is "not news," but has nevertheless harmed the agency's ability to keep America and its allies safe.
On Thursday ProPublica, The New York Times, and The Guardian released the latest dossier of information from Snowden, detailing how the NSA and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have placed backdoors in popular encryption standards and can exploit holes in SSL and an increasing number of VPN systems.
One project, codenamed "Bullrun", involved working with commercial software vendors to allow direct access to unencrypted communications. In addition, the agencies also have the ability to tap submarine data cables. But this should all be expected, the ODNI argues.
"Throughout history, nations have used encryption to protect their secrets, and today, terrorists, cybercriminals, human traffickers and others also use code to hide their activities," the agency said on its recently launched Tumblr page. "Our intelligence community would not be doing its job if we did not try to counter that."
While not confirming or denying any of the specific claims made in the latest information release, the ODNI said that the NSA says on its website that the agency looks to be the best at decrypting information in order to give the US and its allies a "decision advantage".
Nevertheless, the ODNI decried the leaks by Snowden. "The stories published yesterday, however, reveal specific and classified details about how we conduct this critical intelligence activity," it said.
"Anything that yesterday's disclosures add to the ongoing public debate is outweighed by the road map they give to our adversaries about the specific techniques we are using to try to intercept their communications in our attempts to keep America and our allies safe and to provide our leaders with the information they need to make difficult and critical national security decisions." ®