Volume 10, 2022: Issue 2

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Assessing SMEs’ cybersecurity organizational readiness: Findings from an Italian survey


Martina Neri, University of Pisa, Italy

Federico Niccolini, University of Pisa, Italy

Rosario Pugliese, University of Florence, Italy


The Small and Medium-sized Enterprises’ (SMEs) level of organizational cybersecurity readiness has been poorly investigated to date. Currently, all SMEs need to maintain an adequate level of cybersecurity to run their businesses, not only those wishing to fully exploit digitalization’s benefits. Unfortunately, due to their lack of resources, skills, and their low level of cyber awareness, SMEs often seem unprepared. It is essential that they address the digital threats that they face by using technology and complementary (and not alternative) factors, such as guidelines, formal policies, and training. All these elements trigger development processes regarding skills, awareness, the organizational cybersecurity culture, and the organizational resilience. This paper describes Italy’s first multidisciplinary attempt to assess its SMEs’ overall cybersecurity readiness level. We used a survey as its initial quantitative assessment approach, although SMEs can also use it as a cyber self-assessment tool, which prepares them better to navigate the digital ecosystem. Thereafter, we held semi-structured interviews to explore the critical points that had emerged from the study’s first phase. The overall results show that SMEs have not yet achieved high levels of organizational readiness. SMEs are currently starting to set the stage for their organizational cyber readiness and will, therefore, have to take many more proactive steps to address their cyber challenges.


Cybersecurity; Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); Cybersecurity organizational readiness, Italian organizational cybersecurity.




Research paper


The Online Journal of Applied Knowledge Management (OJAKM), ISSN: 2325-4688


International Institute for Applied Knowledge Management (IIAKM)


28 February 2022


16 May 2022; 9 August 2022; 11 September 2022


15 September 2022

Accepting Editor:

Meir Russ