What if he encrypted his laptop? Would it be safe from CryptoLocker?
Not necessarily, should a CryptoLocker infection get on the computer, it would just be double encrypted.
These criminals could care less about what's on the drive in many cases, what they want is your ransom money to get your data back. While it's good for the drive to be encrypted from a security standpoint, to keep data thieves from accessing one's data, this is by no means protection from a crypto type attack.
Because I've never dealt with this, I cannot say that one's data pre-encrypted would make recovery harder.
What I can say is that regular images of the drive is the 100% cure to this. If one plans to travel, it's best to create a Full drive image first, there's many great Free backup apps to choose from, and backup drives are at all time lows per GB. If one can afford to travel abroad, then the same can afford a 1TB backup drive on promo at Newegg for $50-60 or a 2TB one for $$90-100. If that tight on cash, may need to rethink travel plans.
These drives are also available at many Walmart stores, but expect to pay more, that 1TB backup drive for $50-60 becomes a 500GB one, unless a larger one is on promo. This is why I prefer to shop at Newegg, am always getting deals via promo codes that per the BleepingComputer rules, that I cannot post here. There's some items that I'd like to post, but have to provide an Amazon link, because the Newegg one has a promo code on the page.
At any rate, we all should be imaging our drives as a maintenance item, it's not only for drive failure, also for when infection strikes. Having a recent backup means no tools are needed to remove infections, just delete all partitions on the drive, run a quick format of the drive & delete that, using a bootable partition tool like shown below. Prevention is much more efficient & less work than cure.
Also, in the Screenshots, look at the Bootable Main Interface. Highlight the drive you wish to restore & click rebuild MBR, and from a drop down list or how it's presented, choose your OS, follow any prompts, than click 'Apply' at the top of the screen. This cleans & resets your bootloader, if lost. This is an area where Malware can hide and even after a Secure Erase (SSD) or overwrite the drive with the 'autonuke' option of DBAN (HDD Only), may still be present. This is to be used prior to recovering a backup image. Secure Erase for SSD's takes only a couple of minutes, DBAN for HDD's may take hours of overnight for large sized drives. Some may prefer to just after deleting the partitions on the drive, create a new partition for the whole drive & that formats it quick. Delete this & repeat 4-5 times & finally delete all.
One last thing, if there's an option to create a Recovery Disk set, which will take at least 3 to 5 DVD's, perform this task. It'll make the OS line new again, though all of that junk has to be removed. However, if your only choice, like no backups were created, it's better than nothing. Some OS's will offer to create a Recovery Drive instead, a 16GB size one will be needed, because the Recovery Partition will be copied over to reinstall. Keep in mind that for as long as one owns this computer, do not use this Flash drive for anything else, and place it away from those that's used often for storage. Preferably, with the documents that came with your computer, or in a safe (many of us has small ones that's under $100 to keep items of importance in.
Though if given the chance it's slower creating & restoring, but nothing beats DVD's for this task, about 90 minutes of time is required & one can be doing other things. When one DVD if finished, use a permanent marker to label each in order, also mark this on the sleeve it's placed in. Continue until finished. Actually it faster to restore with these versus creating the media, as every DVD is verified after creation.
That's it, if (preferably) backups are regularly taken, one can get out of this jam & not lose much data. If one is too lazy to learn or too tight to purchase a backup drive, then the recovery drive or DVD set will make the OS like new again. Backups are just so much easier, and if anyone wants to learn, please create a Topic in the proper section of the forum & someone will further explain. Many of the members here are more than happy to assist one with these tasks.