I have been learning about AWS and its security services for about a year or so and last week I took the security speciality exam in an attempt to validate my knowledge on the topic and also more of a personal challenge.
I passed the AWS Certified Security Speciality exam the other day and got my new shiny certificate from Amazon Web Services Training and Certification. In this post, I will tell you a bit about how I prepared for the exam and how it went as well as some of the resources I used.
No matter what technical exam you are taking, hands-on practical experience is paramount. It makes studying much easier and serves you well in scenario based questions. As for me, I have been working with AWS services for a bit more than a year now and while I still have loads to learn and many mistakes to make, I do have a great grasp on the fundamentals and can find my way around the platform in a decent manner.
There are many courses online focusing on AWS technologies, just go to any technical training website, and you will find dozens of courses for all different tracks of AWS certification paths and services. I have access to ACloudGuru, so I went ahead and took their learning path dedicated to the security speciality. The content was useful, but the hands-on aspect leaves a lot to be desired (only two hands-on labs as part of the outline). That being said, there are loads of hands-on labs available on the platform, and you also get access to a playground where you can try and practise whatever you want.
While video courses are great, books are much better (at least for me) when it comes to learning things on a decent level. I purchased a copy of Sybex's study guide for the Security Speciality and went through it rather quickly in the week before my exam. Sybex also provides access to an interactive learning environment with loads of practise tests and flashcards. Both the book and the interactive learning environment were highly useful for my studies and preparations.
AWS has a great list of hands-on labs covering many of the security topics and practises following the well-architected framework. I used ACloudGuru's Playground and went through some labs.
AWS provides some really informative white papers and going through them is highly recommend when you are preparing to take on of their exams of if you want to learn more about AWS in general. The following papers are of particular interest for those taking the security speciality exam:
- AWS Security Best Practises
- AWS Key Management Service Best Practises
- Security at Scale: Governance in AWS
- Introduction to AWS Security
Taking The Exam
You can choose whether you want to take the exam at a physical centre on online with the help of a proctor, I opted for the latter given the current situation with COVID-19.
Exam duration: 170 minutes
Number of Questions: 65 questions
Your screen will be recorded for the entirety of the exam, and you will have to keep your webcam one among many other requirements and restrictions so make sure to read through the tips and information you get from your exam provider and prepare your environment accordingly.
As with any exam or certification in this world, if you spend enough time learning and preparing, you will have no issue whatsoever passing the exam and gaining your certification. Decide why you want to do this in the first place, and once you have your motivation and goal set, go for it.