How to Prepare for AWS Security Specialty Certification: A Comprehensive Guide


AWS cloud engineers with a passion for security can greatly benefit from the AWS Security Specialty Certification. 

This comprehensive guide aims to help engineers enhance their security knowledge and prepare for the certification exam.

The article covers various aspects of the exam, including its benefits, how to prepare, recommended resources, and valuable tips for success. 

Why Pursue the AWS Security Specialty Certification?

The AWS Security Specialty Certification can open up new opportunities for you within your organization and help you negotiate better compensation packages. Here are some of the benefits of earning the AWS Security Specialty Certification:

  • Improved Cloud Security Expertise

    Achieving this Certification demonstrates your expertise in securing AWS infrastructure, services, and data. It will help you gain in-depth knowledge of security best practices, advanced security services, and industry-standard protocols.

  • Increased Career Opportunities

    Employers are always looking for certified professionals to secure their cloud infrastructure. This certification can help you land job roles like Security Engineer, Security Analyst, or Security Consultant, among others.

  • Higher Pay Scale

    AWS Security Specialty Certification can also lead to higher salaries. According to Payscale, the average salary for an AWS Certified Security Specialist is around $120,000 per year.

  • Validation of Skills and Knowledge

    This certification demonstrates that you have the expertise required to secure AWS infrastructure and protect data from potential security threats. It can also help you gain credibility and recognition in the industry.

  • Stay Ahead of the Curve

    As new security threats emerge, AWS regularly updates its security services and protocols. Being certified helps you stay up-to-date with the latest security best practices and trends, and enables you to secure your organization's cloud infrastructure effectively.

AWS Security Specialty Certification: An exam overview 

1. How to Register for the Exam?

To register for the AWS Security Specialty Certification exam, follow these steps:

  1. 1

    Go to the AWS Certification website (https://aws.amazon.com/certification/) and sign in to your account.

  2. 2

    Click on the "Certification" tab, then select "AWS Certification Account."

  3. 3

    On the AWS Certification Account page, click on the "Schedule New Exam" button.

  4. 4

    Search for the "AWS Certified Security - Specialty" exam and select it.

  5. 5

    Choose a testing center from the list of available locations.

  6. 6

    Select a date and time for your exam that is convenient for you.

  7. 7

    Review your exam details and click on the "Confirm Exam Appointment" button.

  8. 8

    Pay for your exam using a credit card or voucher.

  9. 9

    Once your payment is processed, you will receive an email confirmation with your exam details.

  10. 10

    On the day of your exam, arrive at the testing center at least 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment with two forms of identification, including one government-issued photo ID.

  11. 11

    Take the exam and receive your results immediately after completion.

Note that you must have a valid AWS account and have passed the AWS Certified Cloud Practitioner or an Associate-level exam before attempting the AWS Certified Security - Specialty exam.

2. What are the main exam domains?

The AWS Security Specialty exam covers five domains, each with its own weightage:

  • Domain 1: Incident Response (12%)

    This domain focuses on your ability to assess and respond to security incidents within AWS. You'll need to know how to analyze findings, remediate issues, and develop a robust incident response plan. 

  • Domain 2: Logging and Monitoring (20%)

    In this domain, you'll demonstrate your expertise in implementing logging and monitoring solutions within AWS. You'll need to understand how to use AWS services to ensure visibility and maintain security compliance. 

  • Domain 3: Infrastructure Security (26%)

    This domain covers your ability to design and implement secure AWS infrastructure. Topics include network security, security group management, and securing your Amazon S3 buckets and EC2 instances.

  • Domain 4: Identity and Access Management (20%)

    Here, you'll showcase your skills in managing AWS identities and access controls, including using AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM), IAM Identity Center, and AWS Organizations to ensure secure access to your AWS resources.

  • Domain 5: Data Protection (22%)

    The final domain focuses on your ability to implement data protection strategies within AWS, including encryption, backup, and disaster recovery.

3. What is the exam passing score?

In order to successfully pass the AWS Security Specialty Certification exam and demonstrate your proficiency in AWS security, you must achieve a score of at least 750 out of the maximum possible 1000 points. 

This scoring threshold ensures that only candidates with a solid understanding of AWS security concepts, best practices, and services are granted the certification.

4. How much does the Exam cost?

The cost of the AWS Security Specialty Certification Exam is $300 USD. However, pricing and fees are subject to change, so it's always best to check the official AWS certification website for the most up-to-date information.

Additionally, some discounts may be available for AWS employees, educators, and students.

Best resources to prepare for the AWS Security Specialty Certification Exam

Recommended Courses

AWS Security Learning Plan 

This learning plan provides a comprehensive walkthrough of AWS security concepts and services, giving you a solid foundation upon which to build.

AWS Certified Security - Specialty by Adrian Cantrill  

From a refreshed perspective, Adrian Cantrill is an excellent AWS instructor, explaining very well and in an easy-to-understand manner.

His videos and diagrams helped me a lot in understanding complex security concepts.These 2 courses will provide a strong foundation in AWS security concepts, best practices, and services.

AWS Certified Security - Specialty by ACloudGuru  

This course is designed to help you obtain the working knowledge and skills required to sit the AWS Certified Security – Specialty exam.

Through taking this course, you will gain hands-on experience securing AWS services and environments, as well as be able to identify and evaluate security considerations and implement mitigation strategies.

Supplemental Learning: Books, Whitepapers, and Documentation

Security Pillar - AWS Well-Architected Framework

It provides guidance to help you apply best practices, current recommendations in the design, delivery, and maintenance of secure AWS workloads.

Security Best Practices in IAM

It provides guidance to help you apply best practices for AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM)

AWS Certified Security Study Guide: Specialty Exam by Marcello Zillo Neto

It prepares you for the Specialty (SCS-C01) Exam with complete coverage of security best practices, design features, and implementation techniques.

Practice Makes Perfect: Exam Simulators and Practice Tests

AWS Official Practice Exam 

AWS Certification Official Practice Question Sets feature 20 questions developed by AWS to demonstrate the style of our certification exams.

These exam-style questions include detailed feedback and recommended resources to help you prepare for your exam.

Whizlabs  

These AWS Certified Security Specialty practice test questions are based on the exam syllabus outlined by official documentation.

They are provided to the candidates to gain more confidence on exam preparation and self-evaluate them against the exam content.

Tutorials Dojo

These AWS Certified Security Specialty practice tests are patterned after the latest exam format and updated regularly based on the feedback of our students on what appeared in the actual exam.

Hands-On Experience

AWS Free Tier 

You can get hands-on experience by just using AWS and making the most of their Free Tier means you get to spend very little while gaining lots of experience with the console and their services

AWS Well-Architected Labs

Hands-on labs content developed by AWS to build AWS solutions using architectural best practices by taking into consideration all 6 pillars of the Well-Architected Framework, one of which is security

ACloudGuru Labs

Hands-on labs content developed by skilled instructors of the ACloudGuru platform for AWS on Security that can help you focus exactly on the security area

Join the Community: AWS User Groups and Online Forums

TechStudySlack

Networking with other AWS professionals can be incredibly valuable as you prepare for the exam. Join local AWS user groups like this one to get information from amazing people around AWS certifications and experience

AWS On Reddit

News, articles and tools covering AWS, including S3, EC2, SQS, RDS, DynamoDB, IAM, CloudFormation, AWS-CDK, Route 53, CloudFront, Lambda, VPC, Cloudwatch, Glacier and more.

AWS re:Post

AWS re:Post provides a unified experience for builders seeking AWS knowledge and skills. re:Post is the only AWS-managed community where experts review answers and author articles to help with AWS technical questions.

Approaching the AWS Security Specialty Certification Exam Questions: Tips and Tricks

During the exam, pay close attention to the question and look for keywords that can help you identify the correct answer.

Additionally, use these tips to increase your chances of success:

  • Read each question carefully, at least twice.

  • Do the easy questions first and the long, difficult questions flag them and return to them once done with the easy questions.

  • Eliminate the obviously wrong answers first.

  • Look for similarities between solutions, as they can help you identify the correct choice.

  • Keep an eye on the clock – if you're stuck on a question, flag it and return to it later.

  • Use the process of elimination to narrow down your choices.

Preparing the AWS Security Specialty Exam Day: Strategies and Best Practices

In the weeks leading up to the exam, make sure you have a consistent study schedule and set aside dedicated time each day to study and practice.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for exam day:

  • Create a study plan and stick to it.

  • Review the AWS Security Specialty exam blueprint to ensure you've covered all topics.

  • Take breaks during your study sessions to avoid burnout.

  • Use flashcards to help remember key concepts and facts.

As for the exam day, make sure you have a good night's sleep and a healthy breakfast. Stay calm, trust your preparation, and remember that you can always retake the exam if necessary.

Conclusion

The AWS Security Specialty Certification is an excellent way to enhance your security knowledge and stand out among other cloud engineers.

By following the recommendations and tips shared in this article, you'll be well on your way to achieving this valuable certification.

Remember, the journey to mastering AWS security is an ongoing process, and staying up-to-date with the latest best practices and AWS services is crucial.

About the author

Youssef

Youssef is a Senior Cloud Consultant & Founder of ITCertificate.org

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