How does cybercrime affect the UK's self-employed?

For businesses of all sizes, cybercrime is a serious threat but for the self-employed, the cost of dealing with the aftermath of a cybercrime can be detrimental to their business.

With cybercrime rising across the globe, the UK is losing billions a year due to fraud and online attacks.

Freelancer affected by cybercrime on laptop

There are a wide range of cyber-attacks that can pose a threat to the self-employed including hacking extortion, malware infection and phishing scams. To discover the true impact of cybercrime on the self-employed, including the average cost of a cyber-attack on a small business to which UK regions are most affected by cybercrime, Markel Direct surveyed 1,000 self-employed workers and SMEs. In this article, they reveal their findings.

What type of cyber-attack is the most common?

Markel Direct’s survey discovered that 51% of SMEs have been the victim of a cyber security breach. The most frequent attack was found to be a malware/virus breach (24%), followed by a data breach (16%), and phishing attack (15%).

Malware encrypting business-critical devices like laptops and tablets can stop devices from running efficiently, erase files and damage programmes that can stop you from being able to work, therefore impacting your business’ income. In some cases, a virus can lead to confidential client data being stolen which causes further implications.

What is the average cost of a cyber-attack on a small business?

Of those surveyed, 53% of SMEs and self-employed workers said the attacks had impacted them financially, with 68% reporting the cost of the breach was up to £5,000.

The cost often covers legal costs and damages owed to other parties where there has been a data breach as well as the cost of restoring data and equipment.

How can I protect my business against cybercrime?

As cybercrime continues to develop, making sure you take the right preventative measures is crucial. By having cyber security in place that will prevent breaches and threats from taking place, the self-employed can reduce the risk of experiencing a cyber-attack.

As well as having suitable cyber security, self-employed businesses should also ensure that they are protected with cyber insurance. This type of insurance can cover against the legal defence costs, damages owed to other parties, the cost of informing clients of a data breach and the cost of restoring data and equipment, helping you to get back to business quicker. Get an online quote now from Markel Direct to protect your business in minutes.

As an IPSE member, you enjoy a 10% discount* on business insurance from Markel Direct.

The regions most affected by cybercrime and more

To find out more about Markel Direct’s cybercrime survey including which regions are most affected by cybercrime, read the full article ‘The true extent of cybercrime on the UK's self-employed and SMEs, revealed’ here.

* IPSE 10% member discount terms and conditions

The discount will be applied to the net policy premium before insurance premium tax is applied. All quotations provided will be subject to meeting underwriting and claims criteria acceptance. All cover will be subject to full policy terms and conditions which are available upon request.

Markel Direct

IPSE have partnered with Markel Direct, a specialist insurer of contractors, freelancers, self-employed professionals and micro-businesses to offer a 10% discount* on contractor insurance to IPSE members.

Markel Direct


Need more help? Self-employment often means having to navigate lots of different websites with no clear source of truth. As the only not-for profit focused on self-employment, IPSE provides impartial and relevant advice on the topics that matter to you.

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Markel Direct