Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shake hands following the first presidential debate moderated by NBC host Lester Holt(bottom L) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016.
PHOTO: PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump shake hands following the first presidential debate moderated by NBC host Lester Holt(bottom L) at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York on September 26, 2016.
Now playing
01:27
Fact check: Was Russia behind the DNC cyberattacks?
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein waits to be introduced prior to a press conference at the National Press Club August 23, 2016 in Washington, DC.
Now playing
01:44
Jill Stein raises millions for recount
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski        (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images
Former Democratic US Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton speaks to staff and supporters at the New Yorker hotel after her defeat in the presidential election November 9, 2016 in New York. / AFP / Brendan Smialowski (Photo credit should read BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:14
Scientists urge Clinton to call for recount
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
LYNDEN, WA - MAY 07: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a speech during a rally at the The Northwest Washington Fair and Event Center on May 7, 2016 in Lynden, Washington. Trump became the Republican presumptive nominee following his landslide win in Indiana on Tuesday. (Photo by Matt Mills McKnight/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:25
Donald Trump's wild ride
Now playing
01:46
Trump's challenges in the Middle East
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
donald trump undocumented immigrants crime fact check origwx ty_00013807.jpg
Now playing
02:47
Fact checking Trump on crimes by immigrants
PHOTO: Mark Makela/Getty Images/Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Now playing
01:26
Trump vs. the tape on Obama and the protester
Now playing
01:28
Trump compares Clinton email probe to Watergate
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
PHOTO: John Locher/AP
Members of the Secret Service rush Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump off the stage at a campaign rally in Reno, Nev., on Saturday, Nov. 5, 2016. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Now playing
01:20
Donald Trump rushed off stage by Secret Service
PHOTO: AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
02:16
Trump reads letter from Patriot's coach at rally
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
PHOTO: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during rally at the Atkinson Country Club in Atkinson, New Hampshire on November 4, 2016.
Now playing
01:56
Trump on US officials: 'What a group of losers'
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
donald trump nice and cool pensacola fl bts_00001523.jpg
Now playing
00:49
Trump's mantra in campaign's final week: Stay on point
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
donald trump nice to hillary clinton and democrats orig cm_00000000.jpg
Now playing
01:52
Audio of Trump praising the Clintons and Democrats
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
cuomo lewandowski hillary clinton email exchange newday_00002327.jpg
Now playing
01:28
Cuomo grills Lewandowski on Clinton email 'hypocrisy'
Now playing
00:10
This video is no longer available
Now playing
01:49
Meet the other Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump

Story highlights

Trump has been accused of being too friendly toward Moscow and President Vladimir Putin

The short answer is no: An individual could not have pulled off this hack

(CNN) —  

Russia might be behind the hack of the Democratic National Committee, according to US officials and lawmakers – but not Donald Trump.

The Republican presidential nominee came up with many alternative possibilities at the first general election debate on Monday night.

“It could be Russia, but it could also be China. It could also be lots of other people,” he said during the first presidential debate. “It also could be somebody sitting on their bed that weighs 400 pounds.”

He also devoted a portion of his answer about cyberattacks to the precociousness of his 10-year-old son.

“So we have to get very, very tough on cyber and cyber warfare. It is a huge problem. I have a son. He’s 10 years old. He has computers. He is so good with these computers, it’s unbelievable. The security aspect of cyber is very, very tough. And maybe it’s hardly doable,” he said.

CNN’s Reality Check vets the claims of the debate

Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said maybe Trump is confused about where the hacker’s “bed” lies.

“My guess is if this guy weighs 400 pounds he’s sitting somewhere in Russia right now,” Schiff told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on “The Situation Room” Tuesday. “I just find this, like his statements about ISIS that played into Russian propaganda, really deplorable.”

And cyber experts say the remarks seem unaware of the seriousness of the threat.

“I was pretty surprised during the debate – there is no ambiguity here,” former Obama administration cybersecurity official Chris Finan said.

“Everybody knows who did it. So to suggest it was an individual – and the other thing is – these intrusion sets are fairly sophisticated,” said Finan, now CEO at Manifold Technology. “To say it was an individual or lone actor or small group, that to me shows a lack of appreciation about the threat and how sophisticated and pernicious it is.”

So how on-target was Trump with his cybersecurity comments? Here are some expert perspectives.

Could a 400-pound hacker have pulled the DNC breach off?

The short answer is no, said Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm that investigated and responded to the hack of the DNC.

It’s nearly impossible to know any hacker’s weight. But one thing that is clear to experts like Alperovitch is that government-backed hackers are well-staffed and well-resourced, using very particular software, break-in tactics and cover-up techniques that act as a signature of each group.

DNC hack: What you need to know

In the case of the DNC, CrowdStrike discovered two groups inside the system, working unbeknownst to the other, which are well-known as Russian-linked hacking operations and have breached dozens or even hundreds of high-value targets like government agencies, high-level officials’ offices and think tanks.

Alperovitch said it was “pretty unlikely” an individual could have mimicked all the various ways that these groups are distinct, from the software to the “tradecraft.” Let alone the other targets bearing the same signatures.

There has been some official talk of Russian involvement, hasn’t there?

US officials have only pointed at Russia anonymously, not wanting to ruffle the delicate Moscow-Washington relationship at this point.o

But US officials from President Barack Obama on down have warned about Russia efforts to interfere in the election through hacking.

Two arrested for hacking US officials

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has been one of the more forward-leaning.

“They see a US conspiracy behind every bush,” Clapper said a few weeks ago when asked if the Russians wanted to disrupt the presidential vote. “They believe that we are trying to influence political developments in Russia, and so their natural response is to retaliate.”

Could an individual hacker still do damage?

Most definitely. Beyond Russia and other nation-state attackers and financially motivated criminal operators, often organized in mafia-like gangs, there are also lone-wolf hackers. Experts divide them into categories like “hacktivists” and “script kiddies,” opportunistic hackers motivated by notoriety or fame.

Examples include Guccifer, a now-convicted Romanian hacker who recently pleaded guilty to hacking the accounts of the family of President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Lawmakers say Russia behind hacks

(A character claiming credit for the DNC hack surfaced online going by “Guccifer 2.0,” but Alperovitch said that was just an attempt to divert suspicion from the Russians as the Guccifer redux” has been proven to not natively speak Romanian.”)

In another case, two North Carolina men were arrested for allegedly breaking into the email accounts of CIA Director John Brennan and National Intelligence Director James Clapper.

How do individuals go about their hacking?

While carrying out an attack the level of the DNC hack requires skill and manpower that individuals don’t possess, attacks like breaking a few email accounts is within the realm of a single hacker.

Often the perpetrators use what’s known as social engineering – gathering clues about a person from their public life online and then using it to guess passwords or security questions to get into accounts and release the contents online.

But that’s still probably beyond the abilities of most 10-year-olds.