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Microsoft Addresses Exam Piracy

MCP Magazine interviewed Microsoft's Dan Truax regarding the "braindump" case's impact on other alleged braindump testing sites.

Following the Jan. 31 sentencing of Robert Keppel to a year in prison for selling IT certification exam questions, reported extensively on CertCities.com, Microsoft Certified Professional Magazine interviewed Dan Truax, director of Microsoft Certification Business & Product Strategy, for the impact the conviction could have on other “braindump” sites.

Is Keppel’s conviction and sentencing good for the certification industry?

Dan Truax: I think it’s good news for the industry in general. For those folks that put all of their time, money and energy into getting their professional certification to help them get a job or further their career, I think this is really good news for them...

What’s the likely impact on the rest of the braindump sites?

I hope that the industry as a whole and the folks that we’re partnering with see now that we do take this seriously. We think a lot about customers and what they use our products for. We want to make sure that the products for certification we provide—[the exams]—really give the right amount of value...

Will Microsoft use this case as leverage against other braindumpers?

Our goal is not to use this as a leverage point. Our goal is to keep promoting the right messages, making sure people clearly understand our policies, and working as appropriate when we’re contacted by local law enforcement authorities, to help them in whatever way we can.

Will the case change the way Microsoft handles non-disclosure agreements for test-takers?

Our NDA maintains confidentiality, but I’m not looking at this case as a thing that will change our policy. We always have had very good and strong policies around anti-piracy already.

Are there any plans to go after people who access braindump information as opposed to people who provide the information?

If we’re contacted by law enforcement, and they need information or help from us in any case they’re pursuing, we’ll work with them as best we can. But Microsoft isn’t a company that’s prosecuting individuals ourselves. We’re just partnering with law enforcement [when] they’re asking us.

Are braindumps flourishing or dying off now?

There certainly does still seem to be some [braindump] activity, enough that we take really strong investment measures in our technology and products to help combat that.

What about international testing centers?

With our delivery partners, we definitely have geographic focuses. They spend a lot of time monitoring their specific physical sites where they have testing centers and understanding the piracy differences between one region and another, and the activity happening there. They do a great job of monitoring and auditing to make sure their testing centers are doing everything they possibly can.

Do you think this braindump situation will be different a year or two from now?

I absolutely hope so. The folks who invest their time and energy into certification want the value of that, and they want it to do a job for them. That’s at an individual level. At the corporate level, our customers are relying on this as a way to differentiate or mitigate the risk of hiring people or putting people on projects. We hope this will make a short- and long-term difference in activity around piracy...

What else are you working on in terms of exam security?

We’re trying to ensure that we can combat it from a memorization perspective as much as possible. It really isn’t about individuals memorizing the answers to questions and the different ways they can do that; it’s really about the individuals demonstrating through product interaction that they can perform the tasks they need to do the job. We’re increasing our investment in the next year around product interaction, simulation and other technology aspects of our certification, to make sure that individuals can interact with a product to demonstrate that they have the skills...

[CertCities.com Becky Nagel contributed to this report.—Editor]

About the Author

Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Virtualization Review.

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