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CCSP Certification: Professional's Guide to Becoming a Certified Cloud Security Professional

May 2022 by MARIA FORSBERG

A career in the field of Cloud Security is set to be among the most lucrative roles in the coming years. Today, there is hardly any business that can operate without a cloud computing solution. Having your data stored in the cloud ensures it’s backed up at a safe location that is accessible at any time for a firm.

 

Needless to mention, there are data thieves out there in the form of digital hackers - who work night and day to steal that information. As a result, more and more firms are leaning towards Cyber Security platforms. Therefore, increasing demand for skilled and experienced cyber-security professionals is only natural to follow, to ensure the safety of these critical systems.

 

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If you’re an IT professional reading this, you might agree that a lack of ‘expertise’ in cyber security is a big obstacle in dealing with the security risks. As per a survey conducted by ISC² - 81% of the participating firms could not apply their traditional solutions to their cloud systems. The cloud environments have their own unique as well as rapidly-evolving demands. Now more than ever, employers are engaging with Information Security Professionals, who can design, manage and protect their cloud data, cloud applications, and cloud infrastructure.

Let’s take a look at the major challenges that organizations face, in relation to their cloud infrastructure:

  • Risk of data leakage and exfiltration of sensitive data
  • Unauthorized access to cloud systems and applications
  • Confidentiality issues
  • Accidental exposure of important credentials
  • Legal and Regulatory compliance

To be successful in the field of cloud security, you'll need a range of technical, professional and problem-solving skills, as well as a passion for the cloud. To make your profile stand out to potential employers, you should consider obtaining a specialist certification in cloud security. If you’re an Information Security professional and are looking for opportunities to demonstrate your proficiency in the field of cloud security, then the Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) certification is ideal for you.

The CCSP Certificate is an information technology certification, administered by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium (ISC²). It has been developed in partnership with the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA). Getting CCSP certified is instrumental not only from a career growth perspective, but also for increasing your earning potential. According to an Annual Salary Survey by the Certification Magazine in 2021, the CCSP is ranked at the top among top 75 certifications. According to ISC2’s cybersecurity workforce study, the global average salary of a CCSP-certified security professional is roughly $80,717.

 

Who is the CCSP Certification for?

The pre-conditions of the CCSP certification suggest that it targets mid-level rather than entry-level security professionals. However, you may still be a good fit for the CCSP exam if you want to launch yourself into the cloud security field without prior professional experience. Earning the CCSP Certification highlights your advanced technical skills and professional knowledge in applying cybersecurity tools, techniques and procedures to cloud computing. Hence, this certificate is perfect for anyone who wants to advance their career in cybersecurity and work with cutting-edge technology at the world's leading organizations.

 

What is the eligibility criteria for the CCSP Certification?

To be eligible to appear for the CCSP exam, you must have at least five years of experience in Information Technology (IT), out of which three focused years of experience in Information Security and one year of experience in any one of the six CCSP-covered cloud-security domains is mandatory. If you hold a valid CISSP Certification, then you’re automatically eligible for the CCSP exam. However, you can always consider pursuing the CSA Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) before the CCSP exam as it allows you to waive the conditionality of a one year cloud security experience in case you do not have that.

Apart from the minimum experience requirements, the CCSP exam expects you to have sound knowledge of cloud security. You can also take the exam without any experience whatsoever because if you manage to achieve a passing grade on the exam, you would be called a CCSP Associate after which you will become a CCSP as soon as you accumulate all the relevant experience.

 

Is the CCSP exam hard to clear?

At this point, you might be thinking, ‘So, what is the exam like?’

It is a Multiple-Choice-Question based examination displaying 125 questions to be answered within a 3-hour time limit. In order to pass the exam, you need to score a minimum of 700 points out of a possible 1000.

Effective from August 1, 2022, The CCSP exam will be divided into 6 main domains, each holding a specific weightage as follows:

 

 

Your next question may be- ‘How do I approach the CCSP exam preparation?

The potential options available for training include:

  • Self-study
  • Online training and,
  • In-person boot camp-style training.

For the CCSP study, ISC² has published an official guide to the CCSP exam. The book is meticulously written, with its current version being around 500 pages long. You can start with an in-depth study of this guide and then take up enough practice tests to prepare yourself for the CCSP exam. If the self-study route seems a bit unnerving, you could go for an in-person and/or an online CCSP training course. The online training route gives you access to a CCSP expert and this can be leveraged by you to get an edge in the exam.

 

What are the expenses associated with the CCSP Certification Process?

The CCSP exam costs $599 in regions such as India and North America. There is a currency-equivalent fee in other countries as well. Rescheduling the exam will cost you an additional $50 and any cancellation from your side will get you a refund after deducting $100.

If you are unable to clear in your first attempt, you may retake the exam up to three times within a 12-month period.

Now, it is important for you to note the rules regarding CCSP’s retake policy, because every attempt for this exam will cost you the full price regardless of the number of previous takes.

As per the CCSP’s retake policy:-

  • If a candidate doesn't pass the exam on the first attempt, they can take another test after 90 days
  • If a candidate doesn’t pass the exam the second time as well, they can again take a retest after 90 additional days
  • If the third attempt is also not a success, the candidate can take the last attempt after 90 additional days

In addition to the CCSP exam cost, your goal to be fully CCSP certified requires you to pay (ISC)2 an Annual Maintenance Fee (AMF) of $125. For CCSP Associates, the fee is only $50 per year. You'll also need to fulfill the continuing education requirements (CERs), which may have their own associated costs as well.

 

Why is there a CCSP maintenance fee involved?

Your CCSP certification is valid only for three years. To keep your certification alive, you must attain 30 CPE credits each year and 90 CPE credits for the 3-year certification period apart from paying an AMF of $125 and complying with the (ISC)² Code of Ethics.

You must recertify every three years by paying an annual maintenance fee (AMF) of $125 and earning 90 Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credits before your CCSP certification expires. For each year of the renewal cycle, you require 30 CPEs. If you are unable to pay the annual maintenance fee, your certificate will get suspended. If you meet both the requirements of CPE credits and AMF payment, your membership gets renewed for a new three-year certification cycle.

 

How to study for the CCSP certification exam as a Working Professional?

One of the most vital points to remember is to focus on a clear understanding of the CCSP domains and the exam format before scheduling your exam. After registering for the exam, you will get 120 days to prepare for the CCSP exam. This is enough time for covering all the topics mentioned in the CCSP study guide. All you need is the discipline to devote 2-3 hours every day to your CCSP exam preparation. Your first goal while preparing for the CCSP exam should be to cover the fundamentals such as encryption, virtualization technologies, and various cloud software.

In addition, your plan to become a certified cloud security professional should also include the following:

❖ Make sure you’ve covered everything:

With 125 questions to be solved in 180 minutes, you will get less than 1.5 minutes to answer each question. So, be mindful of not staying stuck on one question for too long, or else you may reduce your chances of clearing the exam. You should start with easy questions first.

❖ Practice, Practice, Practice:

The practice tests should be your foremost priority. Reading guide books would surely improve your knowledge of CCSP domains but the tests will simulate the actual exam situation for you and give leeway for setbacks. Above all, reading the detailed explanations for the CCSP-certified practice questions alone can do wonders for you!

❖ Plan your strategy way ahead of the exam:

A timetable will assist you in planning and scheduling your 120 days of preparation thoroughly. You must consider all your major commitments on professional as well as personal levels while constructing your study schedule. This will keep you calm and composed while preparing.

❖ Strive for ‘Balance’:

During your preparation journey, find something you enjoy doing other than reading technical reference books. Feel free to take a break to catch up on your favorite TV shows, go cycling, or hang out with friends and family. Always remain confident about your preparation and find as many ways to relax as possible.

❖ Keep a relaxed mind and stance:

You can take the CCSP exam online in a proctored environment from the comfort of your home or at one of their examination centers. Finally, avoid walking into the examination center, with a book in your hand. You must use the day before the exam for relaxation and set aside your study materials 24 hours before the exam. There is nothing you cannot achieve with patience, consistency, and persistence throughout any preparation.

❖ Interact and Network with other aspirants:

Having people with similar interests to study with can make your CCSP preparation much easier and more interesting. You can ask around and find someone who’s already studying for the CCSP, or perhaps you could engage friends or colleagues who might benefit from the exam. Study sessions and one-on-one interactions with peers will help you put the knowledge to the test much ahead of the actual exam day.

❖ Practical/Work experience matters:

There can be no better mentor than work experience itself for the CCSP exam. This exam is predominantly based on hands-on knowledge that cannot be gained by studying alone. You already know that to qualify for this cloud security certification, you need to have at least five years of cumulative paid work experience. Regardless of this prerequisite, getting CCSP certified, hands-on experience is the best possible way to gain practical knowledge of cloud environments. If you’re a working professional who’s thinking about taking this certification, you’d experience how quickly concepts stick when put to action.

❖ Attend a CCSP training seminar:

Depending on your learning style, CCSP training, either in-person & instructor-led or online, is highly recommended. Online training allows more flexible scheduling but in-person training gives you a direct opportunity to interact with industry experts. These seminars are quite rigorous with real-time question-answer sessions. You can find the Readynez training schedules, costs, and other information on our website.

 

The Cybersecurity industry is ever-changing, and even the brightest minds can benefit from some kind of a guiding light on their journey to success. Readynez is here to help you with our 5 days preparatory course to help you clear your (ISC)2 CCSP exam and build your master plan to make you thrive across the arc of your career as a certified cloud. Feel free to reach out for any guidance that can assist you in developing a promising career in cloud security. We wish you all the best in putting in the right effort, cracking the exam, and finally receiving your credential.

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Through years of experience working with more than 1000 top companies in the world, we ́ve architected the Readynez method for learning. Choose IT courses and certifications in any technology using the award-winning Readynez method and combine any variation of learning style, technology and place, to take learning ambitions from intent to impact.

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