Panagiotis Merkouris is the CISO at Athens airport. He is also a graduate of the American College of Greece, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Information Systems and an MBA in Strategic Management from the University of Kingston in the UK. For over 17 years he has designed and implemented effective cybersecurity measures to promptly identify and mitigate risks, ensuring not only compliance with regulations but also while maintaining the highest of security standards. Throughout his career, Panagiotis has led cybersecurity transformation in various organizations and executed major projects on a global scale, spanning five continents.  He has also served for three consecutive terms on the Board of Directors of the ISACA Athens Chapter, demonstrating his leadership skills and commitment to the information security community. 

Do read our interview with Panagiotis as he has some useful insights into how businesses can leverage cybersecurity as a competitive advantage and the most effective ways to communicate the value of cybersecurity investments to stakeholders. 

How can organizations align their cybersecurity strategies with their overall business objectives? 

Organizations can achieve cybersecurity alignment with their overall business objectives by:  

  1. Getting leadership on board: Organizations should conduct thorough risk assessments to identify and prioritise threats that could significantly impact business goals.  
  2. Translating business goals into security goals: Organizations should translate business objectives into measurable security objectives focused on protecting critical data, intellectual property, and infrastructure.  
  3. Investing strategically: Organizations should prioritize security investments and align resources with the most significant business risks.  
  4. Making informed decisions: Organizations should leverage security metrics and cyber threat intelligence to guide strategic security decisions.  
  5. Building a security culture: Organizations should empower employees to be part of the security solution by recognising and reporting suspicious activity and security incidents.  
How can businesses leverage cybersecurity as a competitive advantage? 

Cybersecurity is no longer just about technology and IT. In today’s data-driven world, a robust security posture can be a powerful differentiator, attracting customers, investors, and fostering innovation. Cybersecurity can be leveraged as a competitive advantage by:  

  • Building Trust and Brand Reputation: By prioritizing data security, businesses demonstrate their commitment to protecting stakeholders’ information. This builds brand loyalty and attracts customers. Organizations can demonstrate industry certifications (e.g., ISO 27001) and compliance efforts to show that they take data privacy and information security seriously.  
  • Securing their Competitive Advantage: Strong cybersecurity protects an organization’s trade secrets and proprietary information, giving them an edge over competitors.  
  • Conforming with Regulations: Proactive cybersecurity compliance helps businesses navigate the evolving regulatory landscape and avoid costly fines. Regular security assessments and vulnerability testing help identify and address weaknesses before they become threats for the organizations, thus embracing continuous improvement.  
What are the best practices for building a culture of security awareness across an organization? 

Within the ever-evolving cyber threat landscape, fostering a robust security awareness culture across an organization is no longer a luxury, but a strategic imperative. This collaborative effort empowers employees at all levels to actively participate in safeguarding sensitive information and critical infrastructure. This can be achieved through a robust security awareness program by applying the following:  

  • Integrate security awareness into the organization’s core values and strategic objectives.  
  • Establish clear and consistent communication channels regarding security policies, procedures, and potential threats.   
  • Move beyond traditional PowerPoint presentations. Utilize engaging methods like simulations, gamified scenarios, and role-playing exercises to enhance knowledge retention within senior management.  
  • Align training content with specific departmental functions and responsibilities. Focus on real-world threats and scenarios relevant to employees’ daily tasks, promoting a sense of ownership for security.  
  • Regularly conduct simulated phishing attacks to assess employee preparedness and identify areas where additional training is needed.  
  • Publicly acknowledge and reward employees who demonstrate exemplary security practices or report suspicious activity.  
What are the critical factors for a successful partnership between business leaders and security teams? 

In today’s dynamic threat landscape, achieving robust cybersecurity requires a collaborative effort between business leaders and security teams. This partnership hinges on establishing a shared understanding of an organization’s strategic objectives and its current security posture. Senior management must possess a clear view of cyber risks that could disrupt operations, while security teams need to effectively translate technical security concepts into their business impact.  

Effective communication is paramount. Security teams should proactively engage senior management, keeping them informed of evolving threats and potential mitigation strategies.  Both parties should work jointly to identify, assess, and prioritize risks. This collaborative approach fosters the development of solutions that effectively balance security needs with business objectives.  

Finally, fostering a strong security culture is essential.  Regular security awareness training programmes for employees at all levels equip them with the knowledge and skills to make informed security decisions.  

What are the most effective ways to communicate the value of cybersecurity investments to stakeholders?  

Effectively communicating the value proposition of cybersecurity investments is crucial for securing stakeholder buy-in. This can be achieved by:  

  • Aligning the cybersecurity investments with an organization’s overall strategic objectives. The CISO must highlight how robust cybersecurity safeguards business continuity, protects sensitive data, and fosters trust with customers and partners.  
  • Using data to demonstrate potential losses from cyberattacks vs. security investment costs. The CISO should use a cost-benefit analysis approach to demonstrate the financial implications of cybersecurity investments. It should be presented to reveal the potential losses from cyberattacks, including data breaches, operational disruptions, and reputational damage.   
  • Focusing on risk mitigation and return on investment (ROI). It should be demonstrated how security investments mitigate these risks, ensuring business resilience in the face of evolving threats.