Small businesses and sole traders are being targeted more and more by cybercriminals. Our partner, PolicyBee, takes a look at how cyber insurance can help protect your VA business.

Thousands of businesses around the UK rely on virtual assistants.

In 2018, over 13,000 small businesses employed a virtual assistant. And the rise of remote working after the COVID-19 pandemic is convincing even more to bring one on board.

Being a virtual assistant comes with a few challenges, though. If you’re a sole trader, the buck starts and stops with you. If something goes wrong, it’s up to you to sort it out.

If you wake up on a Monday morning to a PC or laptop infected with malware or ransomware, meaning you can’t do what you need to for your clients, what do you do? And how can you protect yourself in the future?

A growing problem

It’s easy to think that cybercrime won’t affect you. You’re a smaller target after all. Unfortunately, this makes you an easy victim.

The frightening reality is that every 19 seconds in the UK, a small business is hacked.

Cybercriminals mostly want one thing: data. They search for businesses where they can find the most data for the least amount of effort.

A lot of the time, that’s a small business or sole trader. Like a virtual assistant.

If you’re hacked, it’ll cost on average £4,200 to recover. And it could cost a lot more. That’s a really difficult loss to take and can set you back months. Plus, you may lose your clients’ confidence in the process, which is never good for business.

An unfortunate aspect of life as a virtual assistant is that you can be targeted because of the valuable data you use and store. You’re often involved in some of the most sensitive areas of a company. For a cybercriminal, your data could be worth tens of thousands of pounds.

Don’t worry. There are a few ways you can protect yourself.

If you’re hacked, cyber insurance covers you – we’ll talk about how in the next section – but you also need to try and stop attacks before they affect you.

The good news is that there are loads of helpful tools out there. The National Cyber Security Centre has put together a guide for small businesses. It has lots of tips and advice that help to make your business safer online.

The downside is that cybercrime is on the rise. Breaches happen every day to small businesses. If you’re a victim of one, you might struggle to work.

Or you could be looking at a long and expensive legal process.

Cyber insurance is there to protect you if this happens.

Protect yourself

Cyber insurance protects your business if you become a victim of cybercrime. When malware, ransomware, or a phishing attack strikes, it jumps into action in several helpful ways.

First, it covers your direct costs. For instance, you might not be able to work for a couple of weeks so cyber insurance sorts out any loss of income. It also pays for any ransoms and legal fees that might spring up.

And it provides experts to help you recover after you’re hit by an attack.

The first priority is to stop the attack and get everything under control. A team of cybersecurity experts handles this. They’ll work with you to get your systems back on track so you can start working again.

After they’ve got you back up and running, the legal experts are sent in. They notify the right organisations for you – like the Information Commissioner’s Office – and help you sort out any other complicated legal things, like compensation and fines if you’re sued for losing sensitive data.

A PR team will also get involved. Their job is to help you speak to your customers and tell them that the breach has happened. And to let them know what you’re doing about it.

Cyber insurance covers all these costs so you can get back on your feet.

If you use suppliers, you’re also covered if they cause a breach. It won’t help you with the awkward conversation afterwards, though!

It’s important to note that different cyber insurance policies cover different things. Some won’t cover certain kinds of attacks, like social engineering.

Social engineering is a type of attack that manipulates someone into accidentally giving away information or doing something for a cybercriminal. This could be leaking data, sending money, or revealing login info.

So if you get an email from a dodgy sender or a text from a client when you know they’re not working, be careful.

About 98% of breaches use some kind of social engineering. If you’re shopping around, make sure to read the policy wording carefully before signing on the dotted line.

What’s the difference between cyber insurance and professional indemnity insurance?

Do you have professional indemnity insurance? It covers you if a client accuses you of negligence, poor service, acting in bad faith, and other similar claims that result in a financial loss.

We get asked a lot by virtual assistants: doesn’t professional indemnity cover me for cyber-attacks and data breaches?

Unfortunately, the answer is probably not. Most policies don’t allow claims for cybersecurity and data protection.

If you’re not sure whether your current policy covers you, check your policy wording. You don’t want to get caught by surprise when cybercrime catches up with you.

Get up to speed

When it comes to cybercrime, the more you know the better.

Some cyber insurance policies include training to get you up to speed.

The training will teach you about cybercrime and how to avoid the pitfalls of social engineering attacks, like phishing.

It helps you spot dodgy emails, texts, and phone calls that could lead to a breach. And gives you a rundown on cybersecurity so you can improve how you use data and the internet.

About half of the cyber-attacks in the UK work because of phishing. Being clued up can mean that you never click on a bad link or send money to a faraway prince. Trust us, it’s not a safe investment.

But what happens if you do click on a bad link or accidentally send money to a cybercriminal? It can happen to anyone.

Most cyber insurers can be contacted 24/7. So even if you realise you’ve made a mistake at 1am, they can get to work right away. This gives you a way higher chance of recovering quickly.

Some policies will even support you after the breach is fixed.

Their experts will help you put in a bunch of systems that can help protect you in the future.

Build a defence against cybercrime

Cyber-attacks happen every day. They could be your fault. Or you could just be an unlucky target.

The outcomes of an attack are really difficult to deal with. Especially as a virtual assistant where time is money.

For 10% off your VA insurance, and to find out more about cyber insurance, visit You can also call their team on 0345 222 5370 if you need any advice or have any questions.  

We have a number of other blogs from PolicyBee on the VACT site which I totally recommend you have a read through.