Amazon Web Services (AWS) Certified Security Specialty (CSS) Beta Exam

*** NOTE: AWS has pulled this certification refunding all that took the exam. ***

I had the opportunity to take the AWS Certified Security Specialty Exam at re:Invent 2016. The exam is in beta phase where questions are being tested, refined and the exam pass line is being set. I won't find out if I passed until March 2017 and I can't share actual exam questions but I can share advice for others that are interested in the exam in the future. Note that as of Jan 2017 the beta is currently closed as it's proved to be very popular.


I entered the exam cold, drawing only on my working knowledge of AWS and its services so my perspective should be an unbiased view of the exam. There is an exam blueprint but it's been pulled from the AWS website.


  • ~3hr Exam Time
  • > 100 Questions
  • Reading Comprehension Questions
  • Question Nuances Where Important
  • Heavy Focus on Services and Service Components with Security Relationship
    • IAM
    • WAF
    • CloudFront
    • ACM
    • Security Groups
    • NACLs
    • VPC
    • etc.

My Exam Perspective:

I found the questions to be very long, requiring significant reading and reading comprehension in order to answer questions. I also found the possible answers to be long and requiring reading comprehension. I had to read a number of questions at least twice to pickup on all of their nuances and be able to differentiate answer validity. The questions for the exam had some substantial parallels to security related questions on other exams. 

NOTICE: All thoughts/statements in this article are mine alone and do not represent those of Amazon or Amazon Web services. All referenced AWS services and service names are the property of AWS. Although I have made every effort to ensure that the information in this article was correct at writing, I do not assume and hereby disclaim any liability to any party for any loss, damage, or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.