I'd like to thank Suliman for sharing such a personal experience of having used brain dumps for a certification exam. Suliman, you are a true professional, and will always have the full resources of Study Notes and Theory at your disposal in pursuit of your CISSP.
Luke Ahmed, CISSP
P.S. I have titled this post "CISSP Exam Brain Dumps" because if somebody searches those keywords in Google, I hope the tags bring them right to this article. I hope it shows them the reality of using brain dumps and taking shortcuts for an exam, or any other aspects of life.
My Story With Braindumps
Braindump? Strange word, huh?
For a group of elite security professionals such as us, this word was never invited and will never be, but you bet, I had a story with briandumps (regrettably). I hate to waste your precious time going through this lengthy post, the time you would otherwise invest doing other useful things, however it’s the moral of the story (not the story itself), is what I intend to convey to you. So shall we?!
My story was started back in 2004, when I was still freshman, starting the first mile of my career. Grabbing my college degree with a software engineering background, I felt like this is the perfect time to go out there, seek some professional certificate; with knowledge still fresh, I had a specific target on mind. So I started preparing for this specific exam, registered for the exam after couple of months, and wrote the exam; the poor preparation combined with the fact that I’m a bad test-taker, created an unpleasant mixture that led directly to the first blow of my career, a big failure.
Days of frustration gone by after this blow, I even started to re-consider the career as whole. Never thought about just retaking the exam. The shock was simply something that I couldn’t handle. A few weeks later, I met this relative of mine, a not so great guy “academically”. He asked me if I sat for that exam, and I told him yes, but failed, so he went on: “man, how in the hell do you fail this exam??!!” “I bet you went the ‘straight’ way, man you’re wasting your time. Why should you bother yourself preparing for this s**t, while you can crack it with zero preparation??!!”
“See, I cracked this thing with zero preparation”, he showed me this fancy card, recognizing him as certified! The guy I’m telling you about could barely use a keyboard, yes this certified one, seriously! My eyes widened when I saw this card of his and without any reconsideration, I was like: “hand me the materials” just like that.
Immediately he handed me bunch of printed papers with 500+ questions, and went on: “dump this thing into your memory and you good to go”. So finally a thing that I’m good at (solid memory), 4 days went by, memorizing day and night, and I was eventually fully dumping the questions into memory, I could even tell which question is next in the queue. Here we go a new loop, registering for the test, while in the exam, and surprisingly enough; I found every single question in the dump right in front of me, word by word! Took me a little to no effort to recall my memory for the full exam, I even deliberately missed some question to clear any suspicions!
A success report (a well expected one ) was handed to me by the secretary. Believe me, at that time, I had this strange mix of emotion, happy but never proud! Instantly I ignored this call of conscious, I never wanted anything to ruin my “happiness”. I rushed into my resume to update it with the new milestone.
I applied for a job with a local telecom company who were seeking “freshmen” with these particular credentials of mine, a job that fits me will. Couple of weeks later I received that phone call inviting me to the job interview, luckily, the interview was purely ‘behavioral’ – something that I’m good at – what’s your strength? What's your weakness? And so on, it was a piece of cake, I was fully prepared. After one week, I received the second call - the one I’ve been anticipating my whole life – “We’re hiring!” so I started my career on this respected firm.
Only to find that the shortcut I used to get my credentials was never doing me any good with time, no real knowledge to help me get through day-to-day activities. At a time I’ve been forced to develop a solid relationship with search engine, Google, how to do this, Google, how to do that. Moreover, the continuous “awakening of conscious”, if you will, was chasing me every single time, blaming me for the hiring chance I hijacked from another qualified person! Man, these were the worst days of my life.
This was the first time to regret the going the cheap way I went, pursuing this damned cert. I consulted this close friend of mine on the dilemma, and he gave this solution, the one that needs a unique bravery, “tell your supervisor that you have cheated, and that all this fancy certs are only papers, no real knowledge to support it” “Man, this is a big call, I could lose my job!” and he put this word into me, the one particular word that made a huge shift in my life “your job v. your ethics, it’s a safe bet, I’d go for it, ethics are irreplaceable!”, a real friend he was!
His words did a work of magic inside of me. So I decided to do it immediately, so the very next day I sent an email to my supervisor and I explained the situation to him, and he replied: “let’s meet in my office”. I trudged into his office, imagining the extent of damage I did to my career with my own hands. Knocked his door, he invited me in! He immediately said: “in 10 years, this is the most unique case I face regarding my staff! Don’t know what to do!” he went on saying “but my position forces me to escalate it to the HR, this is a serious violation of the quality of education policy of the company”, following this statement I realized that the serious damage is imminent; I even regretted my response to “the call of conscious”.
"Take some days off, and we’ll call you back, after presenting the issue to the proper personnel”.
The longest three days of my life passed before receiving the call, asking me to report to the office. When I got to the office, a meeting was already called for, a representative from the HR, my supervisor and I, were sitting together, the HR rep. went on: “What do you expect us to do?” and I replied “I don’t know”.
My supervisor said: “I’ve presented your case to the HR, and there was a heated debate, concluded that; we will allow you to continue with us with an exception that your benefits package will be ‘backdated’ reduced, but the company will incentivize your honesty and ethics by paying for one month training course, exams, airfare and accommodations all the way to the certification, and we expect you to do it the right way this time, and by the right way we mean the ethical way, moreover the HR, allowed us a new position similar to yours to be filled by the applicant whom you took his chance” he was smiling at this point.
I couldn’t believe what I just heard! A (just) reduction on my package and a relief of my conscious because of hiring my applicant peer, this was like a big prize considering the nightmares I lived with imagining the “someday was career” of mine.
Next, the public affairs of the company were booking me the flight, while I went preparing before the flight deadline, eating with books, sleeping with books. In 4 days I traveled, in 21 days I had the success. I passed my “first” exam, this time there were no mixed emotions, straight happiness and pride there was. So I built-up on this achievement to start a new journey with the IT professional certifications (collecting 7 credentials so far on networking, IS auditing, ITSM as well as info. Sec. with 6 still in the horizon).
With the brand new person I was, I had to seek some respected professional certificate, a one that simply has no braindumps! Guess what, it’s our beloved the CISSP (beside a few others).
The quality of this particular cert, lies in the fact, there are no shortcuts, only dedication and hard work would allow you get through, otherwise you need to consider and save your bucks. And that’s one the facts that make this cert unique and gold standard on the field. The second morale is that ‘ethics is what makes any professional a professional’, being ethical did great things to my professional as well as my social life.