WebSpy: The Origin and Controversy of the Name

The year was 1996 and young(ish) CEO, Jack Andrys, was racking his brain to come up with the perfect name for his business. It was the early stage of the Internet evolution with a shy number of 36 million users, 0.9% of the population. Not much compared to today’s staggering number of 1,596 million users, 23.8% of the population.

The concern for Internet misuse and costly drawbacks in the business arena were gradually rising and proactive Jack could already visualize an increasing need to monitor organizational web resources. Back then the software focused solely on analyzing and reporting on log files produced by proxy servers. Names such as Proxy Analyzer, Log File Reporter, Proxy Log Hog and Web Analyzer entered Jack’s brain but were quickly dismissed. He needed something better, something with more impact, a name that would draw attention, a descriptive name without the dullness, one name that could encompass the software’s functionality and create a conceptual understanding of what the company was all about….one name to rule them all…

WebSpy at trade shows

WebSpy at trade shows

To no one’s surprise the name of choice was WebSpy. The name was almost perfect. It got a tick for all aforementioned qualities, it received the attention sought for and proved to be very controversial from a marketing point of view. I can personally vouch for the attention and curiosity we generate at events such as trade shows.

It is now more than a decade since the birth of WebSpy. The softwares’ features and capabilities have changed dramatically. Now allowing organizations to monitor and report on, not only web usage, but also; email usage, instant messaging, event logs, routers, website visitor traffic, firewalls, anti virus and anti-spam applications, the name WebSpy remains the same. Why you might ask. Why keep a name that actually understates the software’s capabilities? Why keep a name that may be perceived as associated with unethical spying activities?

Yes, WebSpy has experienced a few instances when organizations have been suspicious. Where initial cooperation has been resisted based on a misconception about us stemming from the name. However, the name comes with great weight and legacy. WebSpy was one of the industry pioneers in the 90’s and has many years of brand and reputation building. This is something that can’t be tossed out the window and replaced with a generic or uncontroversial name, just to prevent potential misunderstandings. Needless to say these misunderstandings are generally easy to clear and invalidate.

Instead we make an extra effort to prevent misconstructions. We use our website, marketing communication and workforce to always clearly state our mission and conviction. So for the record, just in case someone has missed it:

We do not by any mean promote or condone spying on employees. We are pro-internet access and provide businesses, government departments and educational organizations an alternative to blocking and filtering software. We emphasizes that organizational internet usage should be managed using an honest and open monitoring approach where acceptable internet usage policies are clearly communicated to employees and students.

The End

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By | 2009-07-03T02:10:52+00:00 July 3rd, 2009|Uncategorized, WebSpy, WebSpy News Update|2 Comments

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  1. John Ponting November 28, 2009 at 4:20 am - Reply


    Our company has serious worries about the name. What is more relevant to our users is that WE are not spies. We really need to re-badge for a couple of reasons.

    1 We should be able to acknowledge the program owners (but not Webspy, perhaps Vantage)
    2 The IT department needs to be acknowledged for internal and support reasons.
    3 We need to avoid any perception of spying
    4 We do not collect details of web use. We report on aggregates such as jits, size and time. This is even further from spying

    Please, give us the change to modify at lease the public interface (the web module)

  2. Asa December 1, 2009 at 2:21 am - Reply

    Hi John,

    Thanks for your comment. I understand your concern and can assure you that one of the features on Vantage Ultimate’s road-map is the ability to re-brand the Web Module, allowing users to see only your own logo and branding.

    Until then, customized branding can still be achieved by editing a few files and images. Our Product Operation Manager has posted a how-to blog on this matter.

    Please have a look at: http://www.webspy.com.au/blogs/index.php/taking-the-webspy-out-of-the-webspy-web-module/

    I hope this helps.

    Kind Regards,

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