While the majority of test takers would baulk at the idea of cheating in an exam, it doesn’t take much of an imagination to see why others might readily jump at the chance, particularly when braindumps are so easy to come by. Increased competition for jobs, the downturn in the economy (and therefore the contraction of the I.T. market), the high cost of certifications, the increasing scope of certifications, the need to constantly update certifications and so on. In some cases perhaps even a person’s complete livelihood may depend on getting a job or staying in a job, and it’s certainly easy to see the lure of braindumps to those who come from less affluent backgrounds when the promise of a high-paid I.T. career can be seen as the ticket to a much better life.
Of course, none of this condones the practice of using braindumps, but it’s not a straight line with the vendors on one side and the test takers on the other. It’s much more blurred than that with training companies, VAR’s, testing centers, website operators, employers, and so on all having their own agendas. For example, where should the blame lie if a training company, in order to boost their passing rates, hand out braindumps to their unwitting students at the conclusion of their training courses? Irrespective of who is to blame in such a scenario, it is increasingly the student who will pay the price.
Vendors have a very large investment to protect and now, lead by some of the industry’s heavyweights like Microsoft and Cisco, they’re fighting back - and they have a number of weapons in their arsenal; routinely changing exam questions, moving more to performance-based testing, introducing statistical analysis and going after the sites that provide braindumps are but a few of the more recent measures being undertaken. But at the end of the day it’s much easier to go after the exam taker so Microsoft, for example, now hands down a lifetime ban in any of their certification programs for anyone caught cheating – and that includes the use of braindumps. Other vendors enforce different penalties, such as a time out period of one year, but expect more and more vendors to adopt a similar stance to Microsoft. Furthermore it’s reasonable to expect greater cooperation between the various vendors in the years to come. There might conceivably come a day when a lifetime ban with Microsoft comes with a lifetime ban from other vendors as well, or at the very least the sharing of a ‘watch list’ or something similar. While at the moment vendors don’t share specific information about individuals with each other there is widespread agreement from the major (and minor) players that exam fraud is a major concern that affects the whole industry. It’s in their interests therefore to work together.
The biggest concern by far however from a candidate’s point of view is the increasing use of data forensics to catch out fraudulent exam takers. Exam data forensics is the use of historical data to compare against test results to look for evidence of fraudulent activity. The forensic algorithm takes into account a number of factors from a candidate’s exam performance and compares that against the historical trend, with certain benchmarks acting as red flags. The reasoning is that candidates who go into the exam with certain prior knowledge of the content of that exam are likely to display certain characteristics in the way they answer questions and progress through the exam. It is these characteristics that the forensic algorithm looks for.