CCSP Certification: Overview And Career Path

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What Is the CCSP Certification?

The Certified Cloud Security Professional (CCSP) Certification is an information technology certification that tests applicants’ knowledge of cloud security topics. It is administered by the International Information System Security Certification Consortium, ISC2, and was developed in partnership with the CSA.
 
The ISC2 CCSP is designed as a certification for mid-level security professionals who want to show their proficiency in the field of cloud security. It is similar to the ISC2 CISSP exam in the choice of topics and difficulty but focuses on cloud security.

How Does the CCSP Certification Differ From Other IT Certifications?

The CCSP certification is one of the few certifications focusing specifically on cloud security. Many other Information Technology certifications take a generalist way to security topics or have a deep level of focus in another area within the domain of information security. In contrast, the ISC2 CCSP exam is designed to test knowledge of the application of cybersecurity techniques, tools, and procedures to cloud computing. A fair amount of focus is placed on drawing attention to the points where the use of cloud computing needs a different approach to security.
 
The CCSP is far from the only cloud-focused certification available. Many other certifications have been developed by cloud vendors and other certification companies to test candidates’ knowledge of cloud computing concepts and technology. However, the CCSP’s focus on cloud security supports to change it from these other certifications.
 
The most similar certification to the CCSP is the Cloud Security Alliance’s  CCSK (Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge). The CSA partnered with ISC2 to create the CCSP exam. According to the CSA blog, the CCSP includes much of the same content spread by the CCSK but also tests knowledge of governance, traditional security, and user privacy in cloud environments.
 
The CSSP is probably the most extensive certification available on the topic of cloud security. It is designed to test knowledge of cloud security topics at a level comparable to that of the CISSP certification.

ISC2 CCSP Exam Summary

What Does the CCSP Exam Cover?

The ISC2 CCSP exam is designed to test an applicant’s knowledge of everything to do with cloud security. The CCSP exam is a 125-question multiple-choice test with a 4 hour time limit. There are a total of 1000 possible points, and a passing score needs a minimum of 70 percent of these. The CCSP exam questions are divided into six diverse domains with the following ratios:
  • Domain 1: Cloud Concepts, Architecture and Design (17%)

  • Domain 2: Cloud Data Security (19%)

  • Domain 3: Cloud Platform & Infrastructure Security (17%)

  • Domain 4: Cloud Application Security (17%)

  • Domain 5: Cloud Security Operations (17%)

  • Domain 6: Legal, Risk and Compliance (13%)

The rest of this section is devoted to giving a brief overview of the topics included in each domain of the CCSP exam.

Domain 1 – Architectural Concepts and Design Requirements

This domain relates to fundamental cloud computing concepts. Candidates need to be familiar with cloud security issues such as encryption, network security, access control and hypervisor security. The domain focuses on securing cloud computing environments such as software, infrastructure and platform services. Candidates need to be able to demonstrate their understanding of cloud security design principles and cloud service certification programs.

Domain 2 – Cloud Data Security

It tests a candidate’s knowledge of technical security issues specific to the cloud. It includes cloud data storage architecture and controls used for securing them, e.g. encryption, data masking, tokenization and data life cycle management. This domain also covers Data Rights Management (DRM) technology, and the deletion, retention and archiving of policies. It encompasses all principles, concepts, standards and structures used for designing, implementing, monitoring and securing the networks, operating systems, equipment, applications, and controls that enforce confidentiality, integrity and availability in cloud.

Domain 3 – Cloud Platform Infrastructure Security

It covers virtual and physical security risks related to cloud infrastructure. This comprises communication between the cloud services, safeguard of virtualization platforms and execution of audit mechanisms. A candidate should hold the ability to carry out cloud risk assessment and develop required security controls as a solution to the identified security risks. The domain also covers how business continuity and disaster recovery plans for cloud services can be developed and implemented.

Domain 4 – Cloud Application Security

This domain explores all application security issues that exist in cloud computing. A candidate will be tested on his ability to comprehend software development life cycle (SDLC), cloud software assurance, and optimum amalgamation of cloud computing services and identity and access management solutions.

Domain 5 – Operations

The operations domain covers operational issues arising out of using cloud computing services. It focuses on cloud infrastructure management and security professionals who work for cloud service providers. It mostly concerns technical issues such as the design, execution and management of logical and physical cloud infrastructure. It also defines media, hardware and operator controls and the tools and facilities for audit and monitoring.

Domain 6 – Legal and Compliance

This domain tests a candidate’s knowledge in legal and regulatory issues arising as a result of adopting cloud computing services. It covers how enterprise risk management can be impacted by cloud computing and how cloud security controls are audited. It also includes security issues of outsourcing, cloud contract design, cloud computing vendor management, investigative techniques, evidence collection such as forensics, legal controls, etc., and privacy issues.

What Do I Need for the CCSP Certification?

The minimum requirements for taking the ISC2 CCSP exam are sufficient knowledge of cloud security to get 700 out of the possible 1000 points. However, the ISC2 CCSP exam also has some experience requirements.
 
To be eligible to become a full ISC2 CCSP, you need to meet three experience requirements. First, you need to show five years of experience in IT. Of those 5 years, three of them need to be focused on information security. Finally, 1 year of experience in cloud security in any one of the six ISC2 CCSP domains is required.
 
The CCSP exam has some exceptions for these rules. Anyone holding the ISC2 CISSP certification automatically meets the eligibility requirements. If you have the information security and information technology experience, you can waive the cloud security requirement by getting the CSA Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge.
 
If you don't have the experience, you can still take the exam. If you obtain a passing grade on the exam, you become a CCSP Associate until you gain the appropriate experience to be a full CCSP. Once you have an ISC2 CCSP certificate, it is good for three years without renewal. To recertify at the three-year mark, you will need to have completed 90 CPE credits in those 3 years and pay an annual maintenance fee of $100.

Should I Take the ISC2 CCSP Exam?

The CCSP exam is designed to provide cloud security practitioners to demonstrate their knowledge and skill sets in that specific field. The content of the CCSP exam is narrowly focused on cloud computing and the knowledge of tools, theory,  and techniques necessary to properly secure it.
 
The experience requirements of the ISC2 CCSP exam mean that it’s not a big choice for those fresh out of college and looking to specialize in cloud computing. The 5 year information technology requirement explains that the CCSP exam is targeting mid-level rather than entry-level security professionals.
 
On the other hand, if you want to break into the cloud security field, this ISC2 exam may be a good fit for you. If you are already a Certified Cloud Security Professional, then you automatically meet the eligibility requirements for the exam. If you have the work experience except for the clouds security background, consider getting the CCSK and then the ISC2 CCSP. This enables you to waive the requirement for cloud security experience for the Certified Cloud Security Professional and use the CCSP certification to help get a job in the field.
 
If you are interested in cloud security and have the experience, taking the ISC2 CCSP exam might not be a bad idea. According to report, average wages for a CCSP are around $138,820 in the U.S. With the prevalence of cloud technology and the upsurge in data breaches, having the skills to preserve a company data is a great marketing tool.

How Do I Prepare for the CCSP Exam?

The CCSP exam covers various topics, so preparation is key for making sure that you are prepared to obtain a passing grade. A couple of possible options are available for preparing, including self-study, online practice test, and in-person boot camp-style training.
 
If you decide to go the self-study route, ISC2 has published an official guide to the ISC2 CCSP exam. The guide is extremely detailed, being over 5 hundred pages in the current version. By going through the guide in-depth.
 
If this seems a bit daunting, the Online Practice Exam would be a better choice. Edusum.com offers Best CCSP online Practice Exam. Taking this Practice test gives you the advantage of having access to a CCSP expert throughout the process, ensuring that all of your CCSP questions will be answered.

Getting Started on a CCSP Certification

The Certified Cloud Security Professional certification is a highly-respected certification that demonstrates knowledge and proficiency in securing cloud environments. The exam material is divided into six several domains and requires a 70 percent score on the 125 questions to pass. Both online and in-person boot camp-style training is available to help you prepare for your exam.
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