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How to prepare for AWS Certified Security – Specialty

With ‘Cloud computing’ completely overhauling today’s business scenario, AWS, Microsoft Azure and many other vendors are entering the business landscape today. AWS or ‘Amazon web services’ is a leading cloud service provider that powers startups and established organizations with services such as storage, computation, databases, networking, analytics, machine learning, IoT (Internet of Things) and more. These services enable the organizations to achieve their business goals in a cost effective and effective manner.

In spite of so many vendors and customers entering the cloud market, AWS has been named a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant in Cloud Infrastructure as a service (IaaS) for the ninth year in a row. (Gartner Report:Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure as a Service, Worldwide (2019))

AWS has introduced many certifications and the ‘AWS Security’ certification is one of them and it has gained widespread acceptance. Here are a few details about the exam.

Skills validated by the exam:

From the AWS website, here is a list of skills that is validated by the exam:

  • “An understanding of specialized data classifications and AWS data protection mechanisms
  • An understanding of data encryption methods and AWS mechanisms to implement them
  • An understanding of secure Internet protocols and AWS mechanisms to implement them
  • A working knowledge of AWS security services and features of services to provide a secure production environment
  • Competency gained from two or more years of production deployment experience using AWS security services and features
  • Ability to make tradeoff decisions with regard to cost, security, and deployment complexity given a set of application requirements
  • An understanding of security operations and risk” (AWS Certified Security – Specialty) 

Recommended experience before taking the exam:

  1. Two years experience securing AWS workloads
  2. At least 5 years experience of IT security experience

About the exam:

Here are the details about the exam:

Format of exam Multiple choice, multiple answer
No. of questions 170
Cost 300 USD (40USD for practice exam)
Languages offered in English, Japanese, Korean, and Simplified Chinese
Delivered by Testing center
Passing grade 750 out of 1000


Exam domains:

The exam has five domains and they are listed below with their weightages:

Domain 1: Incident Response 12%
Domain 2: Logging and Monitoring 20%
Domain 3: Infrastructure Security 26%
Domain 4: Identity and Access Management 20%
Domain 5: Data Protection 22 %

 How to prepare for the exam:

  1. Book an exam date 3-4 months away (depending on your AWS experience)
  2. Prepare the resources to study for the exam
  3. Establish a routine to study for the exam(weekday or weekend) and plan for business trips and personal trips
  4. Revise the week before the exam
  5. Relax the day before the exam and get a good night’s rest
  6. You are guaranteed to pass the exam!

Resources for the exam:

While there are several resources on the net, these are some resources that will help you pass the exam:

  1. AWS Whitepapers and Guides
  2. AWS: Security Best Practices on AWS: Learn to secure your data, servers, and applications with AWS 
  3. AWS Security Best Practices (AWS Whitepaper) 
  4. Mastering AWS Security: Create and maintain a secure cloud ecosystem

In addition, we at InfoSec Train offer AWS Certified Security – Specialty Trainingdo contact us for more details to pass the exam on the first attempt!!

Jayanthi Manikandan ( )
Cyber Security Analyst
Jayanthi Manikandan has a Master’s degree in Information systems with a specialization in Information Assurance from Walsh college, Detroit, MI. She is passionate about Information security and has been writing about it for the past 6 years. She is currently ‘Security researcher at InfoSec train.