What is the CryptoLocker ransom-ware virus?
CryptoLocker is a virus. It encrypts (i.e., scrambles) files on your computer and then prompts you to send a ransom in order to get your files back. It also displays a timer stating that you have 96 hours to pay the ransom or it will delete your encryption key (the password required to unscramble your files), and that you will never be able to decrypt your files. If you send the ransom payment, CryptoLocker may still not decrypt your files.
How do you get infected by CryptoLocker
CryptoLocker is typically spread through emails that pretend to be related to customer support. These emails contain an attachment that, when opened, infect your computer.
What should I do if my computer is infected with the CryptoLocker?
Once CryptoLocker has encrypted your files, the files will remain encrypted until either (a) you obtain a decryption key, or (b) someone breaks the encryption algorithm so that no key is required.
If you pay the ransom and your files are restored, you still need to scan your computer to remove the CryptoLocker virus before it holds your files ransom again. The FixMeStick can remove the CryptoLocker virus.
If you decide to not pay the ransom, or, if you paid the ransom and CryptoLocker still didn't decrypt your files, your next steps are:
1. Remove the CryptoLocker virus so that you can access your files, even though they will be encrypted. For this you can use a FixMeStick. Please note that once you remove the CryptoLocker virus you cannot pay the ransom for the decryption key. That solution is off the table. Either step 2 (below) works for you, or your files remain scrambled. There is unfortunately no going back and no other solution.
2. Two Internet security companies have collaborated to break the CryptoLocker encryption algorithm. While there is no guarantee that their solution will work on your files (there are many variations of the CryptoLocker encryption implementation), you should try their solution and see if it works. There is no cost to trying, and it could work for you. Once you have access to your files, follow the steps at https://www.decryptcryptolocker.com/, and hope that it works.
If step 2 does not work, your last recourse is to restore from backup, if you have a backup.