Certification > Cloud & Containers > Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)

Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS)

The Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) program provides assurance that a CKS has the skills, knowledge, and competence on a broad range of best practices for securing container-based applications and Kubernetes platforms during build, deployment and runtime. CKA certification is required to sit for this exam.

Not sure where to start? You may consider reviewing our suggested CKS learning path.

EXAM SIMULATOR! Learners will now have access to an exam simulator, provided by Killer.sh, to experience the exam environment. You will have two exam simulation attempts (36 hours of access for each attempt from the start of activation). Simulation includes 20-25 questions (which are exactly the same for every attempt and every user (unlike those found on the actual exams) and graded simulation results.

PLEASE NOTE: Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) Upcoming Program Changes on September 12, 2024.

Who Is It For

A Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) is an accomplished Kubernetes practitioner (must be CKA certified) who has demonstrated competence on a broad range of best practices for securing container-based applications and Kubernetes platforms during build, deployment and runtime.
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About This Certification

CKS is a performance-based certification exam that tests candidates' knowledge of Kubernetes and cloud security in a simulated, real world environment. Candidates must have taken and passed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam prior to attempting the CKS exam. CKS may be purchased but not scheduled until CKA certification has been achieved.
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What It Demonstrates

Obtaining a CKS demonstrates a candidate possesses the requisite abilities to secure container-based applications and Kubernetes platforms during build, deployment and runtime, and is qualified to perform these tasks in a professional setting.
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Domains & Competencies
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Cluster Setup10%
Use Network security policies to restrict cluster level access
Use CIS benchmark to review the security configuration of Kubernetes components (etcd, kubelet, kubedns, kubeapi)
Properly set up Ingress objects with security control
Protect node metadata and endpoints
Minimize use of, and access to, GUI elements
Verify platform binaries before deploying
Cluster Hardening15%
Restrict access to Kubernetes API
Use Role Based Access Controls to minimize exposure
Exercise caution in using service accounts e.g. disable defaults, minimize permissions on newly created ones
Update Kubernetes frequently
System Hardening15%
Minimize host OS footprint (reduce attack surface)
Minimize IAM roles
Minimize external access to the network
Appropriately use kernel hardening tools such as AppArmor, seccomp
Minimize Microservice Vulnerabilities20%
Setup appropriate OS level security domains
Manage Kubernetes secrets
Use container runtime sandboxes in multi-tenant environments (e.g. gvisor, kata containers)
Implement pod to pod encryption by use of mTLS
Supply Chain Security20%
Minimize base image footprint
Secure your supply chain: whitelist allowed registries, sign and validate images
Use static analysis of user workloads (e.g.Kubernetes resources, Docker files)
Scan images for known vulnerabilities
Monitoring, Logging and Runtime Security20%
Perform behavioral analytics of syscall process and file activities at the host and container level to detect malicious activities
Detect threats within physical infrastructure, apps, networks, data, users and workloads
Detect all phases of attack regardless where it occurs and how it spreads
Perform deep analytical investigation and identification of bad actors within environment
Ensure immutability of containers at runtime
Use Audit Logs to monitor access

Exam Details & Resources
This exam is an online, proctored, performance-based test that requires solving multiple tasks from a command line running Kubernetes. Candidates have 2 hours to complete the tasks.

Candidates who register for the Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) exam will have 2 attempts (per exam registration) to an exam simulator, provided by Killer.sh.  

Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) candidates must have taken and passed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam prior to attempting the CKS exam.

The exam is based on Kubernetes v1.30
The CKS exam environment will be aligned with the most recent K8s minor version within approximately 4 to 8 weeks of the K8s release date

Please review the Candidate Handbook, Curriculum Overview and Exam Tips along with other recommended resources below.

Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist (CKS) candidates must have taken and passed the Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA) exam prior to attempting the CKS exam.
May 2024
I liked that the exam is hands-on, which, together with the time limit, encourages a certain level of proficiency, which turned out to help me be a little faster and more efficient with Kubernetes tasks at my job.
Apr 2024
I like that it is performance-based. And that it is very challenging. It ensures the candidate understands the concepts thoroughly.
Feb 2024
The exam is challenging and covers a broad aspect of the Kubernetes day-to-day administration tasks.
Jan 2024
Time management and hands-on practice are the most important required skills to attend and complete this exam.
Nov 2023
CKS is a great topic. It's the master's degree of the Kubernetes exams, and you need to know the topics well enough to jump right in and solve the questions. I'm still working toward that elite level, so I probably need another attempt or two until I get it. The scars will be worth it.
Oct 2023
It is the perfect addition to the CKAD and CKA because it opens your mind regarding security, auditing, logging, and, last but not least, the ability to troubleshoot various problems related to networking.
Oct 2023
This certification is a great opportunity to validate knowledge on some topics and better understand others. It also helped me find interesting job opportunities.
Jul 2023
It is high performance & well adopted & checking the real knowledge exam. It can be a KPI & knowledge indicator for all kinds of DevOps specialists. It is ~2 times harder than CKA, but not in case of task difficulty, but in case of time limitations & you have to do some tasks time-cost things.
Apr 2023
The hands-on element of the exam is my most significant selling point to me. If you can pass the exam, you are capable of operating a Kubernetes cluster. The same cannot be said for many other multiple-choice IT exams.
Jul 2022
Exam content was great, and time management is the key thing in the exam. The questions were quite lengthy, and it was quite difficult to solve all of them in the given time.
Jul 2022
No hiccups during the entire 2 hour exam - easy navigation between the questions - clear instructions and proctoring by exam monitor.
Apr 2022
Really really like that it is hands on, and that I am demonstrating skills I can immediately go out and use for my job. I also quite enjoyed the bundled killer-shell practice exam, as it guided me to discovery, where I should improve before going for the real thing.