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How to prepare for CCSK ?

With advancements in cloud technology, organizations are leaving behind the traditional business approach and shifting towards cloud-based services. The cloud has emerged as a significant cost-effective platform providing organizations the flexibility and better utilization of resources. As organizations’ dependency on cloud is increasing, the security of valuable information assets is their topmost priority. Therefore, organizations require highly skilled security professionals who can protect critical assets and mitigate the risk associated with cloud computing.

Cloud security alliance (CSA) realized this shift in the paradigm and came up with the certificate of cloud security knowledge (CCSK) certification program for cybersecurity professionals in 2011. The certification introduces the best strategies to ensure the security of information over the cloud. CCSK opens doors of opportunities to work for top organizations in the field of cybersecurity.

What is the CCSK certification?

Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) is the first credential of the industry for cloud security. It is a knowledge-based certificate designed by the Cloud security alliance (CSA) to ensure that a large number of professionals are aware of the potential threats, and can implement the best security measures to secure cloud computing. It is one of the top cloud computing certification programs.

CCSK Exam details

CCSK is a web-based examination. It can be taken from anywhere. Candidates have to attempt 60 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) in 90 minutes and have to score 80% to clear the examination successfully. The exam is available in the English language.

In 2017, the Cloud security alliance introduced the fourth version of the certificate of cloud security knowledge examination (CCSK V4). CCSK V4 Exam includes advanced features and supporting technologies of cloud computing.

No renewal is required for the certification. Once you earn the certification, it will be valid for the lifetime.

How is CCSK v4 Different from the CCSK v3 Exam?

It is quite a different and updated version of the previous one. CCSK v4 aims to provide some extensive knowledge in the following areas:

  • This version of CCSK covers some additional topics compared to the previous one, such as containers, DevOps, CI/CD toolchains, etc.
  • It provides more explanation on governance, risk management contracts, and the legal aspects of cloud adoption.
  • This version of CCSK focuses on how to manage the risks associated with cloud computing adoption.

Prerequisites for CCSK certification

There is no work experience required to appear for the CCSK exam, but it is recommended o have a basic understanding of various security fundamentals, including firewalls, encryption, identity management, and security development.

What are the Benefits of CCSK certification?

CCSK certification help in parting the skill gap and increase the chances of employability for the professionals who are willing to work in the cloud security domain. It complements various other certification programs such as CISA, CISSP & CCSP.

The certification also validates a candidate’s ability to develop and secure the cloud environment while adhering to the standards accepted globally. The candidates learn to employ the best security measures and deal with cloud security governance and security controls. It provides a competitive edge and helps a professional stand out in this and promising and rapidly growing cloud security domain.

Value of CCSK certification in the market

CCSK is an entry-level cloud certification. Many leading organizations hire the professionals holding the CCSK certification. CCSK took the best position in Certification Magazine’s Average Salary Survey. A CCSK certified professional’s salary is higher than that of other professionals working in the cloud security field.

CCSK preparation guide

CCSK exam authenticates the skillset of a professional for various cloud service platforms. The methodological approach is required for the preparation of examination. Preparation can be divided into the following steps:

  1. Study materials
  2. CCSK training
  3. Practice test
  • Read the study material carefully :Cloud security alliance (CSA) provides a security guidance book, defining 14 security domains. 92 % of the questions are asked from this guidance book. The security guidance for CCSK can be downloaded from the official website of the CSA.

Download the CCSK V4 preparation kit from here: https://cloudsecurityalliance.org/artifacts/ccskv4-exam-prep-kit/

Download the security guidance book from here: https://downloads.cloudsecurityalliance.org/assets/research/security-guidance/security-guidance-v4-FINAL.pdf
A candidate needs to read the security guidance thoroughly as maximum questions are asked from it. It covers the following https://downloads.cloudsecurityalliance.org/assets/research/security-guidance/security-guidance-v4-FINAL.pdf domains: 

  • Cloud computing concepts and architecture
  • Governance and risk management
  • Legal issues contracts, and electronic discovery
  • Compliance and audit management
  • Information governance
  • Management plane and business continuity
  • Infrastructure security
  • Virtualization and containers
  • Incidence response
  • Application security
  • Data security and encryption
  • Identity, Entitlement and access management
  • Security as a service
  • Related technologies

Study the ENISA (European Network & Information security agency) whitepaper describing the risks, benefits, and recommendations for information security.

Download the ENISA whitepaper from here: https://www.enisa.europa.eu/publications/cloud-computing-risk-assessment

Understand the cloud control matrix. It is a set of security controls developed by the cloud security alliance that enables organizations to identify the risks associated with cloud service providers.
1. Choose a CCSK Training program : Another preparation method is to opt for a formal training program. Cloud computing is a high-end technology that requires access to cloud systems and implements the best security measures. Formal training provides the hands-on practical knowledge and real-world experience of a cloud environment. It also helps a candidate in scoring good marks in the examination.The cloud security alliance (CSA) also recommends training. It has developed two CCSK courses keeping the requirement of certification in mind. The courses are as follows:CCSK Foundation: CCSK Foundation course reflects the fundamentals of cloud security and prepares a candidate for the exam. The course covers all the domains mentioned in the security guidance document provided by the cloud security alliance (CSA).CCSK Plus: CCSK plus course covers all the topics of foundation course and expanded study material and many real-world exercises to practice. Candidates can learn how to secure the cloud environment in real scenarios, with the help of these exercises

2. Go through the CCSK Practice test series : Practice tests help a candidate in self-assessing himself before the actual examination. The practice test highlights the strong and weak areas, based on which candidates can make the examination strategies. Practice tests also help candidates in managing the time during the examination, keeping them relaxed and focused.
To be successful in the CCSK examination, candidates must go through the practice test series.

Practice the CCSK test series prepared by Infosec Train’s subject matter experts (<ahref=”https://www.infosectrain.com/”>https://www.infosectrain.com/)

Our recommendations

  • Make a proper plan. Instead of overreading, decide what to read and manage the time accordingly. It will save you precious time, increase your productivity, and boost your confidence.
  • Study smartly focus on understanding the concepts.
  • Keep revising the concepts at a regular interval of time.
  • Be consistent with your preparation. Organize your daily routine with studying, proper physical exercise, and taking sufficient rest.
  • Engage yourself with the study rather than going through books over and over. Try to apply the knowledge at your workplace, if possible.
  • Focus on the topics that are important for the examination point of view. Some of the topics that requires your attention are: five essential characteristics, cloud service models, cloud deployment models, multi-tenancy & risk response strategy, a quick method for evaluating tolerance for moving an asset to various cloud computing models, cloud computing possible benefits and security concerns, privacy in the cloud, compliance and governance, cloud information architectures, storage & encryption options, Data Security Lifecycle, database activity monitoring, interoperability and portability, business continuity & disaster recovery, data center audit, threats for cloud applications, application monitoring in the cloud, alternative approaches to encryption, encryption in cloud databases, key management, identity, entitlement, and access management system, identity federation, hypervisor architecture concerns, the diversity of existing security as a service offering, incident response lifecycle, responsibilities, and limitation, principles to develop a secure design for the application.
  • During the examination, keep yourself calm and read all the choices carefully before selecting the answers.

Target audience

The CCSK certification is highly recommended for:

  • Security managers
  • Security architect
  • IT auditors
  • Any IT professional who is looking for an opportunity to upskill his knowledge in cloud security. 

Final words

CCSK certification helps a professional in beefing up his understanding of various security threats related to cloud computing and forging a promising career in the cloud security domain.

It is recommended to seek expert help to get through this examination in the first attempt. Infosec Train, a globally trusted IT security organization, offers a training program for a certificate of cloud security knowledge (CCSK). The training helps candidates earn CCSK certification and get them a deep insight into cloud security.

Shubham Bhatt ( )
Infosec Train
Shubham Bhatt holds a bachelor's degree in computer science & engineering. He is passionate about information security and has been writing on it for the past three years. Currently, he is working as a Content Writer & Editor at Infosec Train.