Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What Are "Braindumps" and Why Should They Concern Us?

I was looking at test prep sites over the weekend and I thought I should provide you with a reminder of a few things to look for prior to recommending any site to a student and before you might access a site for yourself. A couple of primary reasons to stay away from these sites is that you can lose your certifications and you can be banned from taking any other exams. The following is from CertGUARD's website:

Define: Braindump [breyn-duhmp]

n. (pl.) Questions and Answers taken from exams or other tests that have been copyrighted for purposes of protecting Confidential or Trade Secret Information and distributed for purposes of cheating or profit.
v. To use braindumps in the process of studying for exams or other tests that have been copyrighted for purposes of protecting Confidential or Trade Secret Information.

What is a Braindump?

Identifying a website by its advertisements may help you determine the worth of that site. Here are some modified copies of advertisements from known braindump websites (no links or names have been provided). If you look at them long enough, you'll begin to see a similarly cheap style in the advertisements. If you see those images or other images that may be similar on any certification website you visit, we encourage you to use our Braindump Identification Search on the site to see how we have classified them.

Identify Braindumps by their advertisements

How do I know what a braindump site looks like?

Although some braindumps are easy to spot, many aren't as easy. If you're here looking for advice then you've made the right choice. You must know that not all practice exams are braindumps and that there are many companies out there that do provide legitimate practice exams. Hopefully this will help you spot the illegal braindumps before you waste valuable time and money on them.

There are (currently) THREE major braindump companies in existence today. Those three companies comprise nearly 95% of all braindumps in existence. Two factors that we look at when determining the nature of a site is "Who owns the site?" and "Does this site look like any of the others?".

In reading this, you have to take into consideration that there will ALWAYS be exceptions to the rules. We have researched nearly 2,000 IT Certification websites over the past years and found many of those exceptions for you. So please, take these guidelines for what they are...GUIDELINES. If you have any questions about these guidelines, please visit our forums.

The most obvious, sign is when the site blatantly states "BRAINDUMP", "BRAIN DUMP", "Brain-Dump", or any other form of the word. However, the term 'brain dump' and the word 'braindump' are both becoming more and more popular amongst bloggers and may or may not be related to the illegal braindump.

Another obvious sign is by the ads that braindump sites place within their pages. We're collecting those images so that you can better identify what is normally shown on sites that promote or sell brain dumps. Our collection of images can be FOUND HERE

Some signs are not as obvious as others. So, we have compiled a list of typical traits that will help you determine if the site is worth investing your time.

Here is a list of those less apparent signs of a braindump dealing website:

i. Every website that is owned by one of the three major companies is a braindump. Yes, it's that obvious!
ii. Braindump Sites almost always advertise 'Actual Exam Questions & Answers'.
iii. Braindump Sites usually offer a '100% Pass Guarantee' with no questions asked.
iv. Braindump Sites generally have very large banks of questions and exams. If you see a site that offers every certification under the Sun, stay away.
v. Braindump Sites will offer access to ALL of their practice exams for X number of dollars.
vi. PDFs!! This is a tough one because not every PDF is a braindump and not every braindump is a PDF. But, the odds of getting a PDF that isn't a braindump is pretty rare. DON'T TRUST PDFs!!!
vii. Braindump Sites are often 'templated'; meaning that they will generally look similar to eachother. Once you research your certifications a little more, you'll begin to notice.
viii. SPAM Based advertising. Generally when someone says "Hi, I'm taking my CCNA next week and want to know if XYZ.com is any good.", and they never show up again to check for replies, that's SPAM Based Advertising. IMPORTANT POINT!
ix. Newly released exams. Often, legitimate companies will not have practice test materials available for newly released exams within the first few months of the exam's life cycle.

** Newly released Exam note. It's can be difficult for Legitimate Practice Test Providers to offer study materials or practice tests for each and every exam, doing so would cost the companies much more than the exams are often worth. If you're interested in study materials or practice tests for a particular exam that you know was recently released, your best option is to visit the Certification Vendor.

We are also encouraging everyone to verify the status of the website before you purchase their study materials. Our Basic CertSearch will give you instant results that will help you along your path to certification and keep you from putting your certifications at risk.

What is wrong with brain dumps?

Back when a braindump was a 'Brain Dump', they weren't as harmful. Were they illegal? Maybe they were, maybe they weren't. By today's standards, YES they were illegal, but many Certification Vendors hadn't put those standards into place until AFTER the number of thefts was truly visible, hence the reason for the Non-Disclosure Agreements that we are all forced to read today.

Then, in 1995, a company came along that screwed up our entire Certification world. They took braindumping to a new level by mass producing thousands upon thousands of certification questions from multiple certification vendors and selling them to unsuspecting candidates at an unbelievably LOW price.

Braindump users have compromised the IT Industry by reducing the value of certifications. Exam takers without solid IT experience are artificially passing exams to better their chances of employment in the industry. Unfortunately, as they become employed they do not provide companies with competant skill sets. This in turn makes them less valuable and reduces the salary IT workers are paid. Ultimately this makes the hard won certificatons by legitimate test takers with solid skills and experience suffer.

Sadly, many IT jobs have been outsourced to substandard workers at lower wages. To get their foot in the door they use braindumps to achieve certifications. No one wins in this situation. The company suffers and when the company suffers so do the outsourced workers.

Braindumps hurt everyone. We are dedicated to changing this through education and action.

Why should I stay away from Braindumps?

*You can lose your Certifications
*You can be banned from taking any other exams
*You will not benefit from their use
*You will be caught if you use braindumps, it's only a matter of time
*Braindumps are a clear violation of the certification Non-Disclosure Agreement
*Braindumps hinder your ability to learn the material
*If you have the exam questions ahead of time, you'll be less motivated to learn the material
*The information is shoddy, at best, and cannot be trusted
*The information is often old and out of date
*The claim "actual exam questions" is rarely true
*The information provided in braindumps is only the information that could be remembered
*If you've ever searched out or asked for braindumps, there are records of it
*If you've ever passed dumps on to others, there are records of it
*The sources that the dumps are derived from are inconsistent
*Braindumps do not teach you how to solve the problems that are normally seen in the IT Field
*Braindumps hurt everyone around you
*Braindumps devalue the Certifications that knowledgeable IT Professionals have studied so hard to attain

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