http://www.radiolab.org/story/darkode/ That is a good audio overview of what Cryptowall is. Basically it's a virus that silently installs and then starts encrypting your files with technology so advanced that it would take all the computers in all of the world working together for decades to crack it. Once it's done locking pictures, documents, movies, music and basically anything that would be of value to you, it pops up a message informing you that your files are all locked and if you want to get them back, you need to go get $500-$1000 worth of bitcoins and send it to them. There is literally no way to brute force this virus, your only options are to pay up, restore files from backups or just deal with the fact that all your stuff is gone and reformat your computer. It's bad enough that law enforcement agencies have paid the ransom, knowing it goes to Russian and Ukrainian cyber criminals but unwilling to lose tens or hundreds of thousands of case files. I had this happen to a client on my first day of vacation in a different country. All her files were locked so that when you clicked them they would attempt to open and say they were corrupted. She got the message early in the morning and since I am an amazing IT guy, the backups that are done automatically were able to get the files at 2am, before they were encrypted. She lost a day of work but she almost lost literally millions of dollars worth of bids and job information. Tip from a pro, make sure you keep your computer's operating system updated, active protection anti-virus running and a very progressive backup plan is in place. Bandwidth is cheap these days and you can setup your backup software to upload stuff at 2am. I use Mozy and I am able to go back to specific dates and time and get versions of files from those time periods vs the current one that might be infected. Just a friendly piece of advice from a guy who deals with this stuff on a daily basis.