Braindumps, Gunmen, and Cheaters (revisted)

Obviously by the title you can tell that we've decided to revisit an old article. This was an article that was written by Robert back in September 2006 and needed some serious modifications. In addition, we felt that some of the data provided is now out of date and in need of renovation. Although the information in this version is more current the goals are still the same, to give you a general idea of the miscreants that are devaluing your IT Certifications, to help you recognize them and their illegal products/services, and to provide you with a means of helping us increase the value of your certifications.

Braindumps are everywhere.

They're actually easier to find than they are to avoid, even if you’re not looking for them. Nowadays, if you were to Google “Certifications” prefixed with the Certification Vendor’s name (say…Cisco Certifications) you’ll more than likely find that the first three pages are riddled with braindump links and only include a few links related to the vendor.

Braindumps come in many styles, all of which are variations on the questions and answers that have been stolen from the actual exams. When we started warning people about braindumps, they were merely questions and answers or Q&A w/ explanations. They have since evolved into a much more complex and almost convincing form that many individuals would find hard to believe are braindumps. Even though they are changing in style, one shouldn’t be fooled by their evolutionary offspring, the VCE. We’ve discussed VCEs in a previous blog and will provide a link at the end of this article.

So, for those of you looking for that perfect study solution it can be extremely difficult to stay away from the 'great deals' that most braindump companies are offering. But what you need to look at is what really makes a deal, a great deal. If it’s such a deal, don’t you think you should get a little more out of it than just a virtual piece of paper? How about knowledge? What about integrity? What about legitimate proof of your expertise?

What you should expect to get out of certification study material is a solid understanding of what you’re working with, information that you intend to keep and build upon, and most of all, experience. It’s that hands-on training that makes you the competent employee that all employers are looking for, not the fact that you can memorize some questions and answers.

Testking, the largest braindump company in the world, started out by memorizing (and paying people to memorize) questions and answers from the actual exams. They took what had been memorized and 'dumped' it to their databases then created PDFs of the exams. They have become so huge over the past decade or so that most newer braindump companies out there are even stealing from them (if they are not already owned by Testking).

When we originally wrote this article, we provided our readers with guidelines that helped them determine what a braindump was and how to identify them. Although that information is still readily available on out website, we would prefer you to let us make the determinations regarding IT Certification websites. We’ve classified over 1,800 certification sites and we haven’t been wrong yet. We’ve created a tool that will help you verify the certification sites you may know or frequent. This tool will not only help you determine which sites are braindumps or which sites are safe to use, it will also tell you which sites are "unethical", bootcamps (classrooms), mass distribution, link dumps, gunmen, blogs (good and bad), and those that have forums which support the use and transfer of braindumps.

Enter a Domain

If you run a certification website and would like the code for this tool, it is provided free by CertGuard.

One last item before we move onto the other miscreants in the industry. Always take time to research the sites you're interested in. Seek out message boards and websites where such things are discussed and see what you uncover. It can sometimes be a little tempting to sample a little braindump action here or there, after all, who will know? Often the ‘answers’ provided are actually wrong and you will be sabotaging your own efforts to pass the exam, and not only will you fail when you are expected to apply knowledge you don’t really have on the job, you’ll also risk being decertified, and that could get really ugly. It's definitely not worth it. The time you spend researching now will help you ten fold when your peers are being decertified for cheating.

Hired Guns

Hired guns, also known as Gunmen or Proxy Test-Takers, are an elite group of IT Thieves, and of the three groups mentioned they are by far the worst offenders. Some may actually take the exams for you (at an outrageous price), but most will just steal your money and you will never hear from them again. Gunmen should be avoided at all costs. Many, if not all of them, claim to own testing centers in India and China, and have been connected to both Prometric and VUE.

Gunmen originated in China where the concept of the 'Hired Gunman' was HUGE, even among the college students. Originally, these Hired Gunmen were look-alikes that were paid to go into the exam room and sit the exam in place of the students. No matter what field or how they do it, they’re all nothing more than criminals.

If you find any website that offers a service that claims to take exams for you, report them to the respective certification provider immediately. Most certification vendors post information on their websites explaining exactly how to do this.

Stopping the Cheaters

Cheaters in the IT Industry can be found just about anywhere; in newsgroups, in forums, heck, they even have their own blogs and websites now. Without them, braindump distributors would have no way to profit. So reducing the number of cheaters is just as important as stopping the distributors.

Cheaters have passed exams and acquired certifications illegally, and often they stand ready to help others do the same. Do they deserve those certifications just because they passed the exams? No they don't, and not only do they not deserve those certifications, they should be stripped of all of their certifications and they should be banned from ever taking another IT Certification exam. Although there are those limited few that actually had no idea they were studying a collection of stolen exam questions, did so inadvertently and ignorantly, knowing neither before nor after what they had done, ignorance of the law is no excuse. If you value your certifications and would like to command respect because of those certifications, you need to spend time researching the study materials and you need to get the required experience prior to just jumping in and taking exams to tell people you know something you actually just learned from a few questions and answers.

There are a couple of ways we can all teach the cheaters that using braindumps is illegal. One way is education and the other is example. First, try to get the individual to understand what braindumps are, why they are illegal, and that study through legitimate methods will help keep the value of their certifications worthy of respect. If simple education doesn’t work, then the person should be reported to the respective certification vendor. Generally, the certification vendors will provide the cheater with the ultimate motivation to stop: the threat or the reality of losing their certifications and never being allowed to apply again.

We may not be able to make all of the braindumps and braindumpers go away. We may not be able to disarm every single hired gun and convince the cheaters not to cheat. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. And it doesn’t mean we can’t shun these criminals, take away their profits, and in many cases help the certification vendors shut them down and make them suffer legal sanctions.

By now you know much of what you can do. First, be very wary of any preparation product that just might be a braindump. Second, be a protector of the value of certification by educating everyone you know on the perils of cheating, including loss of certifications, potential job loss, and, of course, major humiliation. Finally, report them, report them, report them.

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.