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CertGuard's definition of a Braindump
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:

  1. Every website that is owned by one of the three major companies is a braindump. Yes, it's that obvious!
  2. Braindump Sites almost always advertise 'Actual Exam Questions & Answers'.
  3. Braindump Sites usually offer a '100% Pass Guarantee' with no questions asked.
  4. 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.
  5. Braindump Sites will offer access to ALL of their practice exams for X number of dollars.
  6. 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!!!
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

  9. ** 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.

What CertGuard is doing about Braindumps and Cheaters

CertGuard is providing IT Professionals and Exam Candidates with the means to research the certification websites they find. We know that many individuals out there are inadvertently sucked into using braindumps without even knowing what they are or where they came from. The information we provide helps individuals see that they can do better.

Before CertGuard, certification vendors pretty much did one of two things. They either opted to accept the fact that people are going to cheat, in which case, they did nothing to challenge the cheaters; or, they had to allocate extra manpower and resources into tracking down the cheaters and pulling their certifications out from under them, in which case, the cheaters were banned from taking exams for a certain period of time, first offenses were generally 30 days. But what if a cheater decides to cross over to some other certification provider? Then they were free to start cheating with that provider until they were caught once more. Basically, it was a neverending cycle, but now we're here to stop the free ride.

We are working with Certification Vendors in an effort to prevent your peers from using, promoting, or transferring copyrighted materials.

The CertGuard Braindump Policy

We have a Zero Tolerance Policy toward Braindumps and the people that use braindumps. We feel that if you've ever knowingly supported the use or transfer of braindumps, then you are not fit to be a part of the IT Community.

Obviously some people are naive enough to not know any better. Is it on purpose? Is it a lack of higher knowledge? Who knows?! But our goal is to not only stop candidates from sharing Braindumps, but to also shutdown the sites that create and/or provide those Braindumps to unsuspecting candidates. Our list of Braindump Sites, Forums, and News Groups is extensive and we monitor the Internet constantly for new Braindump Websites that pop up. While we are diligently seeking to shut down the websites and forums that provide, support, and transfer Braindumps, we are also hard at work taking down names and other information of the Candidates that are publicly sharing this ill-gotten information.

As you may have also noticed, we're trying to use the word BRAINDUMP as often as possible. By using Braindump, brain dumps, braindumps, or dump, we're hoping to 'steal the glory' away from the braindump sites, which will ultimately provide our braindump education pages a better spot in the search engines on the internet.

When we find braindumps, we report them for further investigation. You can also do your part in reporting braindumps as soon as you see them by contacting us via our contact form.

Check our Vendors Page for the respective NDA Violation Email Contact. If we have not been provided with an appropriate email address or page, from the Certification Vendor our own email address has been substituted. Please contact us regarding the issue and we will forward the information on through the appropriate channels.

What are Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)?

Although primarily known as "NDAs" amongst the IT Community, they are also known as 'Confidential Disclosure Agreements (CDAs)', 'Exam Candidate Agreements', 'Candidate Conduct Policies', 'Certification Ethics Policy', 'Confidentiality Agreements' and 'Secrecy Agreements'. Whatever you like to call them, they all basically state the same thing: "Do NOT release the information provided to you on this exam!"

Many Certification Providers have implemented NDAs to prevent exam takers from stealing their information. Prior to taking any certification exam, it is required that examinees sign the NDA.

Microsoft's Non-Disclosure Agreement (seen here: Microsoft Non-Disclosure Agreement) states that "You are expressly prohibited from disclosing, publishing, reproducing, or transmitting this exam, in whole or in part, in any form or by any means, verbal or written..." What this means is that when you take a Microsoft exam you are agreeing to a legally binding statement that says that you will not reveal any of the content of the exam. To post questions on the Internet (be it newsgroups, forums, or chat rooms) that came from any exam is a clear violation of this agreement.

Cisco's NDA is similar and can be found here: Cisco's Violation Rules
This is a PDF of Cisco's Confidentiality Agreement: Cisco's Confidentiality Agreement.

You can be assured that when we find violations of any NDA, we will report them. You can also do your part in reporting violations as soon as you see them by contacting us via our contact form.

Check our Vendors Page for the respective NDA Violation Email Contact.

There have been numerous discussions on the subject of what these NDAs do include and don't include. I suggest you take a few minutes to read this blog written by Michael D. Alligood called Demystifying the NDA and the follow up to that article Demystifying the NDA; Part 2.

Braindump Excuses?!?!

Ex: "What do you care if someone cheats on a certification exam or not, what does it do to hurt CertGuard?"
Re: The goals we have set forth are not about CertGuard. They are about doing what is moral and ethical; they're about the problems that arise from cheating; and they're about the companies that have gone under because they've lost so much by hiring people who have lied and/or cheated "to get their foot in the door".

Ex: "There are a lot of people out there that are unemployed and trying to change their lives. They have mouths to feed and mortgages to pay. They are new to the IT field and feel the only way they can get the door open to them is to pass a certification exam and get an interview"
Re: So that makes it ok to cheat? Is it now ok to break the law because you're trying to help someone other than yourself? So, are you saying it should be ok for someone to steal a gun and rob a bank to get money to put food in their kid's mouths? It's the same principal. What about the honest people who also have kids to feed and mortgages to pay? Why should we suffer because we choose to be honest?

Ex: "Maybe they are excellent with PC repair but are terrible at taking exams should they not get a shot at an interview because they don't have a piece of paper saying they know how to do it?"
Re: Exam taking is a simple combination of reading and comprehension skills. So, until they can learn to read and they can improve their comprehension skills, no; they should not get a chance at an interview...especially if they cheated to get that interview, because they may have cheated an honest person out of that interview. What about the honest technicians with good test taking skills that only score in the 89th percentile versus the 99th that most of these cheaters score in? Should they be without a job because they were honest? Or is that just more incentive for everyone to cheat?

Ex: "Maybe they have been out of work for a while or have just been laid off and grasping at any straw to get a job."
Re: To be honest, they should have spent their time a little better by practicing and preparing for the certifications the proper way, versus trying to find a way to circumvent the system. We've all been out of work, or know someone who has been out of work for an extended period of time. Did you (ot they) do anything immoral or illegal because of it? There was a time I was out of work for 11 months, but I didn't stoop to cheating so that I could steal a job from someone that honestly deserved it.

Ex: "They go on the internet and find a brain dump site and unknowingly purchase the exam and pass the test. How does that hurt the certification community? How does that hurt you personally?"
Re: Ahhh, you've hit the magic key word; "UNknowingly". Certification Vendors have given up on trying to figure out who knew they cheated and who didn't know. The reason they adopted the Zero Tolerance approach to decertifying those that have cheated is because anyone can say "well, I didn't know". I've said this 1000 times and I'll continue to say it "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". This is, however, where CertGuard comes in; we are not only trying to get the word out to people that "braindumps are illegal" and "using braindumps is considered cheating", but we're also focusing our efforts on letting people know which websites are providing braindumps and how avoiding those websites can save their career.

People are going to cheat, it's inevitable. For the people that don't take our advice and continue to cheat, then the system will get them and they'll learn the hard way; but if we can help the people who may have otherwise found themselves using braindumps, then we have accomplished two things:

  1. We saved that person from a potential career disaster; now their certifications won't be taken away from them for reasons they can't fathom; and
  2. We have taken just that much more revenue out of the pockets of the thieves who are destroying the value of our certifications.
Again, this is not about me and not about CertGuard. It lessens the value of the certifications that people like you have (I'm assuming) honestly earned. Put it this way, people always put a value on their own self-worth, always. The more you know and the better you are at something adds a great deal of value what you feel you're worth. People that cheat, generally know less and aren't as good at what they do; and they KNOW it. Subconsciously they know that what they did was immoral or unethical; and this translates to a lack of self-worth and ultimately surfaces when they low-ball their worth to potential employers. Most employers (especially in this economy) are looking for "cheap". They want the same qualities for less money. Now, the person who has cheated, and doesn't have the same qualities, has just been awarded the position because of false advertising. Unfortunately for the employer, that false advertising generally won't be noticed for 3-6 months down the line until one day an emergency arises (they always do) and the technician that should know how to handle it, doesn't have a clue what's going on and either damages the equipment, or causes a loss of data, or in a best case scenario actually has the cajones to tell the boss he doesn't know what to do. But the result is almost always the same; the employer ends up paying more money in the long run and is soured on hiring individuals based on their certifications. Please, tell me how that doesn't affect the certification community. In relation to IT Certifications, this has been a common occurrence for the past 12 years, at least.

Ex: "If they can feed their family and pay their mortgage would you take that away from them because you have some innate personal crusade going on?"
Re: CertGuard, its officers, or employees, are NOT on any crusade against anyone. We abhor and despise cheating and always will, it's what we stand for. We are not going to discriminate for or against anyone, if a person has cheated then they should be accountable for their actions. If you choose to cheat in order to put food in your family's mouths, then so be it; but just as if you were to choose to rob a bank to put food in their mouths, you should choose to accept the consequences of your actions when you're caught. Also know that "IGNORANCE OF THE LAW IS NO EXCUSE". Nobody cares if you say you didn't know, the fact remains that you should know that the use of braindumps is considered a violation of your Non-Disclosure / Candidate Agreement and is punishable by loss of certifications and/or loss of rights to certify. We are trying to make it known to all individuals in the IT Industry that Certification Vendors are not playing around with cheaters anymore and that there is a simpler way to determine which websites are providing you with braindumps and putting your certifications at risk.

(Note: Ex=Excuse, Re=Retort)

CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications by preventing and bringing awareness to cheating
CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications
CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications
CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications
CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications by preventing and bringing awareness to cheating
CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications
CertGuard Inc - Protecting your education and certifications
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