Certification exams still plagued by cheaters
BY DAVID WORTHINGTON
Weeks after SD Times reported on widespread cheating on professional certification, with tests being swapped online, the practice continues unabated. In late March, SD Times disclosed how websites host forums where members share advice, experiences and actual word-forword certification test questions in so-called braindumps.
Braindumps for Cisco, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle and Sun IT certification exams are available on the Web. Braindumps contain copyrighted content, and discussing tests with other parties violates nondisclosure agreements.
As recently as mid-April, http://www.examcollection.com
was still being used by cheaters to discuss which braindumps were still valid. Posts indicate that little progress has been made to thwart the cheating. Cheaters reported receiving 100% scores on multiple Microsoft certification exams, including 70-642 (Windows Server 2008 Network Infrastructure)and 70-646 (Windows Server 2008, Server Administrator), as well as near-perfect scores on 70-640 (Windows Server 2008 Active Directory).
One message alleged that just five questions were changed on 70-640. Another site, http://www.certcollection.org
, has added a torrent section to help distribute information to cheaters rather than taking action against the sharing of braindumps.
Torrents are specialized files utilized in peer-to-peer network environments. A torrent file points to a list of â€œtrackerâ€ servers, which in turn coordinate P2P file sharing.
â€œMicrosoft continually works to prevent and address exam fraud, piracy and any other illegal exam and certification activities,â€ said Peggy Crowley, antipiracy program manager at Microsoft Learning. â€œAll violations of Microsoft Certified Professional program rules are reviewed and addressed accordingly.â€
The company uses data forensics to identify groups of candidates who used braindumps, and corrective action â€œup to and including a lifetime ban from the program may be taken against any candidate who uses information provided on a braindump site, even if that candidate did not intend to defraud the MCP program,â€ she added.
She would not specifically address why Microsoft does not require test makers to change questions more frequently to combat cheating.
Microsoft encourages people who find a website that discloses Microsoft certification exam information, or who discover that another individual is cheating on exam questions and answers, to send an e-mail message to email@example.com.
Due to tips from individuals, several websites have been closed down by their operators, she noted. At least one business has formed to help individuals and organizations detect cheat-support sites. Certguard.com says that it lists more than 1,400 braindump sites and over 300