EC-Council History and Criticism

Fri Dec 23 18:29:15 CST 2011

Founded in 2001, EC-Council has been described as having a questionable history in regards to their educational and certification offerings. For a while, they were described as a "Paper Mill" (i.e., an organization that essentially sells certification or degrees) by some, but the term is subjective. Others have leveled a wide variety of criticism toward the organization.

Even if it isn't a "paper mill" by most people's definitions, there is obvious concern that EC-Council may be creating certifications and marketing the same ones to two different IT Roles. Consider that the EC-Council Certified Network Defense Architect (CNDA), a certification that implies you are certified to defend networks, is actually the exact same certification as the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH). From the page:

4. How different is the exam compared to CEH?
Except the title difference, the content of the exam is the same as the CEH exam. There is no difference other than the exam title difference. You can use CEH exam preparation guides for this exam too.

5. What certification will I be awarded after completing CNDA exam 312-99?
You will be awarded "Certified Network Defense Architect"

Calling a certification that teaches penetration testing techniques a "defensive architect" is certainly misleading and inappropriate. Further, consider that to become an EC-Council Licensed Penetration Tester, you must hold both the Certified Ethical Hacker (CEH) and the Certified Security Analyst (ECSA). Once you hold the LPT certification, you must pay a $500 fee for the two years for which it is valid. Subsequent renewals are $250 annually. There is no indication that you are required to do any form of continuing education like ISC^2's CISSP certification.

Along with EC-Council University (address in Abq, NM, USA, run by EC-Council), they apparently run the University Kristen Marantha (Maranatha Christian University) and the associated Information Technology program (address in Bandung, Indonesia). The ECCUNI faculty list and the Marantha IT lecturers share four names: Blaine Dooley, Max Kush, Jean McKay, and Keith Parsons. In addition, Haja Mohideen can be found on both the Marantha IT lecturers and the EC-Council Management page.

Boasting a New York address many years back, it was described as an empty office. Jay Bavisi, founder and president even admitted it is "a mere call answering service" because a "lot of people internationally do not know where Laramie is". Yet, two months later, Bavisi told the Indonesian press that EC-Council "had established its headquarters in New York to tap the higher demand for its certification programmes in the US." That same article says that Bavisi sold his business, KnowledgeCOM, at the end of 2003, before founding EC-Council. This gives us a two year discrepency on when EC-Council was founded. These contradicting statements made to two very different markets highlight why many are suspicious of Bavisi and EC-Council's claims.

While EC-Council is supposedly headquartered in Albuquerque, New Mexico, Bavisi also admits "the whole world knows that we operate mainly from outside the US". With operations mostly done outside the U.S., it is curious why EC-Council has gone to great lengths to appear to operate from within America. Some believe it has to do with their DoD 8570 Directive approval for their C|EH program.

EC-Council University has had its fair share of drama. Originally started in Laramie, Wyoming, ECCUNI was told it would have to wait longer for a license by the state Board of Education in November 2005. In response, Phil Nicholas, an attorney for the university, said that "classes could start within a year, but degrees wouldn't be issued until a deeper curriculum is established". This seems to be an admission that ECCUNI did not have a mature curriculum developed when they settled in Wyoming. In January 2006, the Board of Education granted a state license to the unaccredited EC-Council University. In response, Bavisi "promised to clarify academic information on the council's Web site and to staff the school's Laramie office as required by law" because "The department [of Education] feels that EC-Council might be misleading students who might be wanting to get a master's degree from an accredited university". Due to these problems, EC-Council moved and incorporated in New Mexico where university licensing is said to be less strict.

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