How to Become an AWS Certified Security Specialist
As the world enters a new age, that of the digital era, the demand for high level security has become a necessity rather than just a requirement. Thus, the need for security professionals, specialists in this area, has risen over the past decade, and as the world starts relying more and more on technology, this demand will continue to increase. Previously, there used to be security related roles in information technology, however, with the passage of time new roles have developed including that of the Security Specialist also referred to as the Security Architect. With respect to this specialization, the AWS Certified Security Specialist credential is exactly what you need to step up your game.
AWS Certifications confirm your knowledge and skills in this cloud computing platform and are consistently listed among the top paying IT certifications on a global scale. Additionally, the certifications offered by AWS are also recognized throughout the industry, thus increasing your chances of getting hired for the security specialist position. At times, it becomes difficult to figure out from where to begin. Good news for you, you have landed on the right page. Go through this article and find out everything you need to know about AWS Certified Security Specialist.
Once you are able to obtain this certification, it validates your skills in different areas, and brands you as a professional capable of handling all security related tasks. It helps in demonstrating your knowledge of the AWS platform and the process of securing it. Following are some skills which you will learn and hone throughout this certification.
- In-depth understanding and knowledge of AWS mechanisms for data protection and specialized data classifications.
- In-depth understanding and knowledge of data encryption methods and the mechanisms available in AWS for deploying them.
- In-depth understanding and knowledge of secure internet protocols and the mechanisms available in AWS for deploying them.
- Knowledge and understanding of AWS Security Services along with the many features available for providing a secure and highly protected production environment.
- The competencies of an individual developed over two or more years through practical experience of production deployment via AWS security services and its unique features.
- An in-depth understanding and knowledge of security operations and risk.
- The ability to consider the opportunity cost and take decisions with regards to security, and cost, as well as deployment complexity related to a specific set of application requirements.
What does this Course Includes?
You might be wondering what is included in this course. Well, to sum it up, the course is designed to provide you detailed information regarding the major areas that need to be covered under AWS Security along with its associated services, such as;
- The Basics of Security
- AWS Security and what it offers
- How to deploy security in AWS
- Utilization of the Security Protocols offered by AWS
- Detective Controls
- Data Protection
- The process of securing the AWS Services
- Infrastructure Protection
- Identity and Access Management
- Incident Management and Troubleshooting
As you can see, the course has been designed to equip you not just with the knowledge of AWS Security but also provide hands on experience of working with the software so that you can become a qualified AWS Certified Security Specialist in no time at all.
Prerequisites and Recommended Knowledge
Many people believe that the certification would require certain conditions to be met before they can opt for it. Well, that belief is true, however, the course does not have any particular pre-requisite that needs to be completed before an individual can enroll in it. Following are some of the things that are recommended before opting for this certification.
- AT least 5 years or more experience in IT Security, especially designing and deploying security solutions in the organization’s systems.
- A minimum of 2 years’ practical experience in securing AWS workloads
- Experience of using security controls for the workloads on AWS.
- Should have done any of the associate level certifications offered by AWS.
AWS Certified Security Specialist Exam
It is always a good idea to get to know about the certification you are interested in. So, how is the AWS Certified Security Specialist’s exam structured? Let’s find out!
The exam is designed to test you to the best of your abilities and determine how apt you are at using AWS and all the security controls available. The question paper has 65 MCQs (multiple choice questions), which need to be answered in 170 minutes. The exam is available in multiple languages, namely; English, Korean, Japanese, and simplified Chinese. The registration fee of the exam is $300/- per student. The overall course is designed to provide you with the knowledge needed to understand the various security mechanisms as well as the different techniques that are available in AWS for securing infrastructure and data from internal and external threats.
Advantages of Obtaining AWS Certified Security Specialist Credential
There are many advantages you stand to gain by obtaining the AWS Certified Security Specialist Credential. As Cloud Security is immensely important and nearly all businesses have shifted to this technology, therefore, staying up to date in this regard, is extremely important. This certification offers a reputable benchmark for AWS partners as well as practitioners, hence, the need for the certification. It also puts you on the list of preferred candidates for the job, hence, getting shortlisted becomes easier. Additionally, it ensures that all team members follow the best practices available for security, while providing them a chance for professional progression.
Who Should Opt for This Certification?
This certification should be undertaken by anybody who is interested in learning about the best way to recognize, explain, and deploy solutions for enforcing strict security controls throughout the different levels of AWS infrastructure implementations.
Earning Potential of an AWS Certified Security Specialist
This is the one question that most people have when opting for this certification, is how much they are expected to earn after obtaining it. Here’s your answer.
On average, people having any of the AWS associate level certifications can earn up to$125,000/- or more. For people having higher level certifications, the average pay is greater than that. So, you can be sure to have a stable and successful career if you keep yourself updated with times and continue developing your skills set to meet the increasingly changing demands of your organizations.
Sample resume of an AWS Certified Security Specialist
email@example.com | 111-222-333-444 | State your address here
AWS (Amazon Web Services)
Following are the certifications I have obtained from AWS:
- AWS Certified Security Specialist (Specialization)
- AWS Certified Solutions Architect (Associate)
- AWS Certified DevOps Engineer (Professional)
- AWS Certified Developer (Associate)
- AWS Certified SysOps Administrator (Associate)
FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency)
Following are the certifications I have obtained from FEMA:
- Community Emergency Response Teams (IS-315, IS-317)
- Incident Command System (IS-100.b, IS-200.b)
- National Incident Management System (IS-700.a, IS-702.a, IS-703.a)
University of Berkshire – 2003 - 2007
Master of Engineering (Hons) in Computer Systems and Software Engineering
ABC Company – 2016 – Present
Senior Engineer, Security & Incident Response
- Designing, delivering, and open sourcing the company’s employee security training courses annually.
- Major Incident Response lead: writing and open sourcing the company’s Incident Response document. Developer training courses for internal and external incident response/ command, that are presented at customer sessions on a global scale.
- Deploying the SSH 2FA across the overall infrastructure and working with the entire team for providing a hassle free customer experience via Yubikeys.
- Leveraging Lanbada, AWS Configuration, Amazon Macie, and GuardDuty for automating the security as well as compliance within AWS.
- Liaise with teams throughout the organization on various issues such as reviewing customer contracts and queries, performing risk assessments, and training executive teams regarding the different procedures for incident response.
ABC Company – 2015 – 2016
Senior Engineer Operations
The responsibilities Included;
- Automating and improving the company’s infrastructure, as well as using Chef for management of configuration.
- Seamless transitioning of the AWS infrastructure to EC2-VPC from EC2-Classic, along with overhauling the AWS account for following the latest best practices with regards to security. Reduced costs by 30%, provided training on best practices of AWS, and developed detailed reports.
- Major Incident Response Lead: responsible for performing the role of Incident Commander, provide training to the team and develop chat tooling to be utilized during incidents.
- Major focus on providing optimal security by preparing the formal incident response plan for security breaches, overhaul the public vulnerability reporting process and prepared detailed documentation on security processes along with their best practices.
- Spoke on the company’s Failure Friday program at the Advanced AWS Meet Up at AWS Loft – San Francisco.
Grace Organization – 2014 -2015
Platform Lead, Server Operations & Engineering
- Team lead for the server operations and engineering team for the Global professional services at the company’s office. Develop products and tools for internal initiatives as well as international clients including NET Servicoses, Sony, and Bang & Oust.
- Design and develop new back end services along with maintenance and expansion of the AWS Infrastructure for these services, and mentor the other members of the team.
- Oversee and provide the 24/7 on call support throughout the year for all services systems and applications.
- Ensure the system and application security. Perform reviews on a regular basis for compliance with the InfoSec directives. Remain updated with the latest vulnerabilities in order to proactively mitigate and manage new threats.
- Develop prototypes for demonstrating the company’s latest tech as well as APIs to be utilized as demos at trade conferences and shows.
- Manage the team’s resources and liaise with other teams with the objective of providing scopings and meeting deliverables.
Grace Organization – 2012 -2014
Senior Systems Engineer – Mobile
- Provision, maintain and improve the server infrastructure divided between AWS and physical data centers. Experience of using Synology and F5 BIG-IP hardware, along with VMWare ESXi. Also provided 24/7 call support throughout the year.
- Develop scripts and other tools for automating the application implementation, self – repairing, configuration, as well as monitoring of the system.
- Migrate the department to AWS from a physical data center. Design, build, and implement a variety of applications using the AWS Stack.
- Develop standalone applications from scratch inclusive of event logging systems, service framework, different content management tools, and the analytics platform. Migrate the already in place applications to a service-oriented infrastructure from a monolithic one.
- Design and develop the PHP Services/ APIs used for supporting the company’s mobile applications like Habu and MusicID.
XYZ Corporation – 2007 -2012
Software Development Engineer
- Senior C++ Developer with a team to manage the baggage system of the airline.
- Design and develop a message framework for the baggage system. Interaction with reconciliation, sorting, security screening, and tracking systems at the airport. The new system yielded faster and easier to maintain records, compatibility with other baggage systems, fewer lost bags, and fewer corrupted messages for the passengers.
- Involved in airline cut-overs, from international carriers to domestic airlines.
- Developed internal monitoring as well as investigative tools using PHP and Java.
Following are the projects I have worked on:
- ABC Company’s Security Training; it included both general as well as engineering specific topics
- ABC Company’s Incident Respond Documentation; it included the collection of the best practices as well as training material for incident response.
- Chrome Notifier for ABC Company; developed a chrome extension for displaying desktop notifications for the company.
Common interview questions for an AWS Certified Security Specialist
Now that you have gathered information about the credential itself, it is very important for you to make use of that information. Being prepared for the interview will only happen when you know your subject matter and are ready to communicate it clearly and effectively to the hiring manager or your interviewer. Hence, it is important to know the kind of questions that can be asked of you during an interview.
Commonly, most interviews are structured in the same manner. The interviewer begins by asking some generic questions before moving on to the more specific ones. Following are ome of the qyestions which may be asked of you.
- Please tell us about yourself, your education, experience, so on and so forth.
- Why are you looking to switch from your current position?
- What made you consider our company for the job?
- What are your career aspirations?
- How important do you thin security is for an organization?
- Have you ever been in a leading role?
- Give an example of an instance in which you resolved an issue within your team members.
- Have you ever had to make a tough call?
- Give an example of an incident related to security breach that you helped resolve.
- Where do you see yourself after five years?
These are some of the questions which an interviewer is likely to ask. They may also ask about your family, your bonds with them, and other questions. Note that the aforementioned questions will give you an idea of what kind of questions to expect, but does not mean that the interviewer will be restricted to these questions only.
Now, moving on to the technical questions, following are a couple which the interviewer is likely to ask, so make sure to be prepared for them.
- Why do you think companies need to switch to cloud computing?
- How many EC2 instances can you use in a VPC?
- What is the difference between stopping an instance and terminating an instance?
- Do you know what lifecycle hooks are?
- What is AWS Lambada?
- What is S3 and how many buckets can be created in it?
- Why are the two types of load balancer?
- How many Elastic IPs can you create?
- How do you ensure that an EC2 instance is launched in a particular available Zone?
- How will you use S3 with your EC2 instances?
Now these are some questions, which will give you a general idea of what type of technical questions to expect. There is much to be gained by obtaining the AWS Certified Security Specialist credential. What you need to understand is that once you qualify for this credential, you will be able to get on the radar of the hiring managers and clear the screening process. For more information, browse our information security course catalog to see the cyber security courses, classes, certification training and boot camps we have on offer.
Always remember that information is key and the more information you possess the better it will be when it comes to making good career decisions. There is a wide variety of certifications available which will not only help you in developing your skill set further, but also allow you to progress in your career. So, be sure to find out everything you can and then be on your way to greatness.