CryptoWall 2.0 is the latest immunoresistant strain of a larger body of viruses known as ransomware. The virus is thought to infiltrate your computer when you click on a legitimate-looking attachment or through existing malware lurking on your hard drive, and once unleashed it instantly encrypts all your files, barring access to a single photo or tax receipt. Everyone has the same questions when they first hear about CryptoWall:
Is there any other way to get rid of it besides paying the ransom? No — it appears to be technologically impossible for anyone to decrypt your files once CryptoWall 2.0 has locked them.
Has anyone been hit by these yet? I know I've gotten sloppy and hit download on several files that were all fakes, but I've been lucky as they haven't been self executing. The gold star treatment is to reformat, and then copy your files back from an external hard drive. The real kicker is that it has to be disconnected lest the virus spread to your backup. I hate having to connect and reconnect my external, it shortens the lifespan of the cable, and its a hassle to dig down into the mess of cables to find the right one. I feel this will hit Apple fans hard, as Apple consumers are stereotyped as very tech un-savvy.
As for the customer service, if there's an issue, send the criminals a message using their messaging system. Be honest, and explain your attempts at payment.
"Of course, this advice arrives too late for my mom. And it appeared her payment had arrived too late as well: By the time I got home from Greenpoint, her CryptoWall ransom had been raised to $1,000, and the $500 in Bitcoins she had deposited had vanished. In a panic, she wrote to Mike Hoats asking for advice. What he told her sounded crazy to me. Use the CryptoWall message interface to tell the criminals exactly what happened. Be honest, in other words.
So she did. She explained that the virus had struck the same week that a major snowstorm hit Massachusetts and the Thanksgiving holiday shut down the banks. She told them about the unexpected Bitcoin shortfall and about dispatching her daughter to the Coin Cafe A.T.M. at the 11th hour. She swore she had really, really tried not to miss their deadline. And then a weird thing happened: Her decryption key arrived."
They have a reputation to uphold, and it's bad for business if people think they aren't reliable.