IT virtual-security experts can now show off their knowledge with a certificate that shows they've mastered the contents of two cloud-security papers.

Called the Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge, the designation is earned by studying "Security Guidance for Critical Areas of Focus in Cloud Computing, V2.1" and "Cloud Computing: Benefits, Risks and Recommendations for Information Security" and passing an online test.

"The Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge (CCSK) provides evidence that an individual has successfully completed an examination covering the key concepts of the CSA guidance and ENISA [European Network and Information Security Agency] whitepaper," according to the CCSK web site maintained by the Cloud Security Alliance (CSA), which wrote the security guidance document. The benefits, risks and recommendations paper was written by ENISA.

The exam is sponsored by CSA, an industry group dedicated to examining cloud architecture and recommending best practices. Its paper breaks down areas of concern into 13 domains, spells out security challenges in each and recommends how to deal with them.

The ENISA paper reviews the risks and benefits of cloud computing and follows up with lengthy and specific recommendations for secure adoption of cloud technology and services. In all, the two papers amount to about 200 pages.

The exam costs $295, but is discounted to $195 until the end of 2010.