Sky by Broadband is stealing your bandwidth

After reading today about the launch of Sky’s new broadband movie & sport download service, available free to Sky customers, I decided to take them up on the offer.
Who wouldn’t think the idea of being able to download hit movies legally, for free wasn’t a good one?

Sky by Broadband UIAdmittedly, the installation was a little long-winded.
I don’t use Windows Media player, so I only had installed what came with SP2, version 9?
I was forced to upgrade to 10. OK, fairs fair. Not a big deal.
Then after that further DRM updates were required, OK, fine.

The layout is clean, crisp and pleasing to the eye. Very professional.

The list of available movies was impressive, basically everything that is currently showing on the 11 Sky Movie channels, available to download and watch at the touch of a button instead of waiting for the next showing on the TV.

So, I set about downloading possibly Jim Carreys biggest flop, The Cable Guy. Don’t blame me, I haven’t seen it before and I like Jim, I’m curious.

It’s quite surprising that the movie, encoded at 860kbps has to be downloaded in its entirety before it can be viewed. This particular film is 471MB in size.
No problem, I think to myself, 10MB connection, 461MB can be done in less than 15 minutes or so.
Or so I thought.

sbb-status.jpg
The download didn’t start off too well, around about 4KB/s, periodically jumping to around 44KB/s before losing it again. Considering my connection can do >1000KB/s, this made me scratch my head a little.
After about 15 minutes, it had gotten no faster. To download movies at that rate will definitely not implore many people use this service over illegal P2P services.

I couldn’t figure out why it was so slow, and it was almost time for me to call it a night, so the Sky by Broadband program was terminated and I went about my business, Gmail being my first stop, naturally.

sbb-dumeter.jpgI like to monitor my bandwidth at all times, what is uploading and what is downloading at any one time, it lulls me into a sense of security, like I have complete control over my PC. So I run a program called ‘Dumeter‘. It sits just above my clock in the bottom right hand corner of my screen and it displays how fast my NIC is currently downloading and what it is uploading.

Although I had no programs open other than the Firefox browser, my upload rate was around 10KB/s and download rate 30KB/s. Very odd, was my first thought.
So, I open up the command prompt and use netstat -o to view all currently open connections.
netstat
Showing in there are connections to other clients, localised to the UK. No servers, just clients.
I match the PID’s that are showing in the command window to a the PID of a program running in the background from the Windows task manager called ‘Kservice.exe’, a program that I am unfamiliar with. This is unusual as I like to be acquainted with all processes that are running on my machines, nothing should be running if I don’t know what it is.

A quick Google of the process name brought up results that to be honest, I was expecting.
This is part of Sky by Broadband. I assumed that it had not shut down properly, so was therefor still downloading my movie selection.
Terminating the application worked fine. All traffic stopped and dropped to zero, as expected.

After poking around I found that KService was setup as a Windows service, set to start at boot. Something that as far as I was aware, I had not agreed to. Not explicitly anyway.
It is looking more and more likely that Sky by Broadband uses P2P functions to deliver its content.
A quick scan of the terms and conditions at the Sky by Broadband website almost confirms this;

7. Uploading Content
If you download and save content to your computer system (a “File”), during the license period for the relevant File, we may upload parcels of content from the File from your computer system for the purpose of transferring Files to other users of the Service.

It is now that the plot begins to thicken.
I decided to install the Sky by Broadband client again, to make sure that I hadn’t missed anything telling me about the P2P aspect of the program.
I came across this little gem, quite incriminating, don’t you think?

No, you aren’t mistaken. Point 7, the only thing that even comes to admitting that P2P methods are used is mysteriously omitted.
The license agreement that all users are agreeing to are flawed, seriously flawed.
BSkyB are installing programs onto customers computers that have not been authorised.

The transfer side of the software appears to have been made by a company called ‘Kontiki‘.
Their company slogan is to ‘Distribute digital media faster and more securely while reducing video content delivery costs’.
Their clients include the BBC, I assume this is for their iMP that is currently in testing.

In essence, Sky have created a program that makes you think that you are downloading content directly from them, but really, it is a P2P system.
A P2P system that does not close when you exit the program but continues to share files and continues to eat into your bandwidth.
A P2P system that uses programs and methods that have not been implicitly implied in the TOS or T&C and does have major detrimental effects over both system resources and network traffic.

The BBC, with their iMP project have been implicit with their explanation of how the service works. In fact, the second question in their FAQ about the system includes the following line;

iMP uses peer-to-peer (P2P) technology to distribute the programmes via the Internet cost-effectively.

Unfortunately I am not on the iMP trial, so I cannot confirm whether or not it uses the same invasive methods to distribute its content.

For many users, the issue of bandwidth will be extremely relevant.
Many users have ‘capped’ broadband packages, whereby only a certain amount of data can be transferred per month. This amount of data usually combines both uploaded and downloaded data so Sky by Broadband sitting in the background happily transferring Spiderman 2 to Joe Bloggs in Preston may cause Mr N E Other in Portsmouth to go over his monthly allowance without him even knowing that is there doing this.

What I aim to find out;

  • Why BSkyB not publicise that their ‘by Broadband’ service is actually P2P based?
  • Why does KService.exe startup at boot?
  • Why does the service not mention at any point that the KService.exe process will start at boot and thus be constantly using bandwidth?
  • Why is the point that refers to ‘ocassional uploading’ in the T&C on the install program, missing?
  • In the same way as Sony were been brought to account over their ‘XCP‘ copyright protection in 2005 by Mark Russinovich of Sysinternals, I am launching the investigative campaign in the hope that Sky will increase the prominence of details about the way that the Sky by Broadband system works and how it will affect the users computer and network/internet connection.
    I believe it to be irresponsible of BSkyB to allow users to have their connection to the internet utilised almost constantly without explicitly informing them of this.

    I decided to give Sky a chance to field the question that has been burning throughout this investigation.
    Are BSkyB openly acknowledging the fact that the Sky by Broadband service continues to act as a peer for other downloaders even when the client has been closed?
    The answer is no. They are not.

    Q: If I was to close down Sky by Broadband, does all downloading and uploading cease?
    Firstly, the representative fed me something about having to be connected at the time whilst I was downloading. I don’t think she quite understood the question.

    I reiterated the question and was put on hold for some 2 minutes.
    When she came back to me, she answered;
    No. If you close Sky by Broadband it does not continue to work.

    This is untrue.
    Either BskyB are not telling their first-line support the methods of the service, or they are intently obscuring it.

    106 Comments

    1. Having looking into this to see if Sky really are being sneaky I have found you are comparing two different things. The website holds the T&C’s and below them the license agreement. If you compare the license agreement on the website to the one we get when we install the application it is the same apart from the numbering of the sections are correct on the website. The T&C’s do publish the fact that this is a P2P based. Sorry to say it.

    2. Even if the small print tells you it’s a p2p, the fact that you’re prevented from controlling it (short of editing startup in msconfig) is still an important issue.

    3. I stumbled across the same issue when initially I was trying to work out why things were taking so long to download from this service. I had the networking tab showing in the Windows Task Manager and noticed that when I quit from the programme, my network connection was still being used. On experimenting further I found that even if I shut down the PC and rebooted my network connection was still being used by this software.

      I wasn’t too happy about this and decided to uninstall the skybybroadband service, as I do have an internet provider which caps the amount that can be downloaded per month, and I didn’t want to use it up.

      My huge concern is that even after unistalling the program the P2P part of the software remains installed on your pc, and will continue sending packets of data across your network. I found 2 processes running in the Task Manager KHost.exe and KService.exe, and I have to say that although I was able to get rid of them on a perminant basis, most pc users would have no idea how to do it, and probably wouldn’t realise that their internet connection was still being used anyway.

      I think Sky need to do a major rethink here, at the very least they need to make it thoroughly clear to everyone how this software works (in simple terms which can be understood by everyone), and they should also release an uninstall program that not only removes its own part of the software but the P2P part of the software too.

    4. OK – Just downloaded SBB and not happy with it all – especially no uninstall options – removed the SBB and Net Framework elemnents from Control Panel but KHost and KService remain so taking double time for anti-virus software to boot up etc etc – can someone help me remove them permenantly! Cheers in advance

    5. Dan, I agree that is an important issue and Sky should provide the uninstaller for the p2p software. I was trying to point out that in the original article the author was giving us all misleading information to support the author’s conspiracy theory. I do not find this helpful, I have always followed the rule that weak/incorrect arguments detract from the strong arguments. In this case making the false claim that Sky have deliberately removed the p2p statement from the license agreement detracts from the fact that the p2p software is not clear to the average user and can not be removed by the uninstaller.

    6. I too think it sucks that Sky do not provide an uninstaller for the Kontiki software. I am currently waiting a call back from their techies to tell me how to remove it. Will keep you posted.

    7. I’ve installed/used skybb for a week now and never knew this until I stumbled on this site via a random google search…

      Anyway, I found where the kitikonti software gets installed, ‘C:\windows\ktx’, my worry is if I DELETE this file (Khost.exe) will it just stop the ‘sharing’ aspect of the skybb program or will it b*gger it up totally and not run at all or download anything?

    8. You’re confusing KiloBYTES per second (KBpS) with KiloBITS per second (Kbps). Your broadband connection is 1Mbps, there are 8 bits in a byte that means your maximum download rate in BYTES is 125KB/S your maximum upload rate is usually throttled to half that and shares the same bandwidth. Of course your download rate also depends on the number of sources, their upload rates and any throrttling in the management application – you wouldn’t want it to take up all your bandwidth or you wouldn’t be able to do anything else, like running your own P2P software :)

    9. Re kService.exe. I found it by surprise whilst doing an audit of Zone Alarm access rights. I’ve now blocked it in ZA and see that it’s making web access attempts every few seconds. I’m very cross with Sky. Removal of Sky Broadband– simple – Control Panel – Add/Remove Programme – scroll down to Sky Broadband and remove.

    10. Had similar problems to above, disabled Kservice, then noticed spoolsv.exe trying to call out. Checked it up and found its a legit Microsoft app for printer/fax spooling. BUT it was calling 193.114.117.134 which is non other than BSKYB, now what’s that all about???
      I reckon this is all a nasty piece of c***p, and deserves wider publicity to protect the unsuspecting public

    11. SBB caused my PC to boot REALLY slowly, and stoped F_Secure form loading correctly.
      I found that by setting KService to load “manually” rather than the default “Automatic” not only sped up the boot time of my PC but also allowed the Firewall to load correctly.
      On another note – F-Secure recently updated its parental control (web page filter) this recent update stopped SBB from even finding its logon server let alone actually loging on.
      To permit SBB to function I have had to explicitly allow the folowing sites, static1.sky.com, dms.vod.sky.com, alb.vod.sky.com, 82.101.8.46.
      I have reported this to F-Secure and I’m awaiting a response.

    12. SkyByBroadband uninstall instructions:

      1. Click on your Start button then select Control Panel and chose Add or Remove Programs. Then find Sky by broadband in the list, click the remove button next to it and follow the on-screen prompts.

      2. You will also need to remove the Kontiki components that were installed along with Sky by broadband. Instructions on how to do this can be found in the Sky by broadband FAQ’s or by clicking the following link:

      http://www..sky.com/skybybroadband/articles/article04

      (Basically, download http://static.sky.com/kclean/KClean_51102.0.exe the run it, tick all boxes and click OK)

    13. You should be able to set up a ruke for Kontiji serves and khost on a firewall. Also consider moving download file to different directory, see file location in SBB settings, you can then view file with your media player as the licence is linked to the file not SBB, remen=mber to delete the original download, This should work

    14. I couldn’t even get the software to down load. Glad I found here, shalln’t even bother with it now. DVDs are cheap enough these days and a lot better quality

    15. Have sent the following to Watchdog:

      Stealth software from Sky

      I thought I should make you aware that Sky’s broadband software installs some stealth software called Konitiki which is a “peer to peer� service.

      Whereas most people think that they are downloading a movie on Sky’s service from Sky themselves, they are actually getting bits from other Sky BB users who are unaware their paid for broadband is being used for this.

      Much of the country has broadband that applies a download limit, which is affected by people uploading. Sky BB customers will soon find that they have exceeded their limit with their ISP just because other people are downloading movies from them.

      I feel Watchdog should investigate this and try and get Sky to either change their approach to a less clandestine method or at least make this fact obvious on their website rather than in a small paragraph in their T&C’s.

      Thank you.

    16. Thanks to ()z from March 22nd. Yes worked a treat and saved me a lot of reading and searching. I must say I didn’t know their uploads/downloads would be p2p. I run peerguardian and two ip’s kept turning up (blocked admittedly).They were BSky B on 193.195.115.136 and Broadcasting Media on 193.114.117.134. They’re both gone now so very happy thank you. I have no problem with Sky on this issue really although a lot of the population really wouldn’t know where to find a fix ore even know there was a problem.
      Anyway, thanks for the help

    17. I have just discovered Kservice lurking on my machine after trying to transfer Sky By Broadband from one machine to another. Just to say that I had occasion to ring Sky tech support several times during the process (and haven’t succeeded in doing it yet). They are very nice folks but they are relatively clueless. It’s not that they don’t tell you about Kontiki – that’s mentioned on the website where you sign up for the service -it’s that they don’t know how it works or how hard it is to uninistall it. I was told uninstalling SkY By BB was as easy as add/remove programs. It isn’t, because Kontiki is still working away. The tech support are not being deceitful, IMHO – they just don’t know much. I suspect the probs I have had transferring SBB from one PC to another have been caused by the Kontiki app still running on my network. Now that I see how hard Kontiki is to remove I am not sure if I want to move SBB at all – I’ll just dump it.

    18. Hi,

      Thanks for this article! I installed Sky by broadband the other day and used it a couple of times. However today when trolling my firewall logs I noticed my workstation was making UDP connections from source port 1948 to a couple of strange addresses to destination port 6667. This troubled me greatly and I thought a trojan or worm had snuck in (in a way it had!). I couldnt figure out what was sending the packets at first, then I discovered that kservice thing was the culprit (thanks to TCPView from sysinternals!).

      I am really really angry that Sky install something that stays running even when the main Sky BB thing is not running. In the first instance that thing could have been sending anything out there, its another hole in my system that can possibly be exploited and it doesnt ask you if you want to allow it! I am mighty annoyed!

      Thanks to your article for pointing out it was Sky that put the thing there. I was hunting high and low to try and find what had installed it! I am usually pretty vigilant and I very nearly rebuilt my entire machine to get rid of the damn thing not knowing how it got there and what it was.

      If you google UDP/6667 (the port kservice uses) you will get a whole bunch of hits about trojans etc. But you also it find on the SKY FAQ recomending that you enable it on any firewalls to allow Sky by BB to work. That also lean me to the fact that Sky by BB was the culprit.

      Shame on them… I will be complaining! This is a totally breach of ettiquite let alone other legal stuff…

      Thanks again
      James

    19. Thank goodness someone’s on the ball. I have suffered weeks of dropped VOIP calls, stalled downloads and static web pages. Yes I had installed Sky by Broadband, which incidentally has now disappeared off the Sky web site without trace, leaving no information or FAQs behind. I was even considering buying a new router in order to try to find a cure for this intermittent band width problem. Then when I carefully studied my Sygate firewall log again I noticed the constant polling out for Sky vox on 193.195.115.136 and 193.114.117.0
      This was a surprise to me as I had previously uninstalled this program and it shouldn’t be there anyhow. I manually deleted all the Sky registry entries’ that I could find, but this did not kill the dial home program. I then thought about blocking all entries of 193.195.115.136-193.195.136.225 and 193.114.117.0-193114.117.225 but in the meantime Google found this thread. I ticked every box on the screen and was informed that uninstall was complete.
      As I mentioned before, all information relating to Sky by broadband, including the download program has been removed from the Sky site. So it is thanks to you guys on this thread that the problem has been pin pointed and a link to uninstalling Konitiki.
      Like everyone else here I find Sky totally arrogant and have wasted hours of my time having BT check the line etc.
      Change to Sky broadband? Yeah in your dreams, never.

    20. Hi, Ive just requested a migration code form aol broadband so that i can join sky max, on reading these messages i think i may have made a mistake. I have not yet received my mac code so have not given it to sky, can i carry on with aol as normal or will they end my connection? FREE sounds good but not after reading this page.
      Many thanks wendy

    21. Hi Wendy for god’s sake phone them and cancel at once
      Like you I thought this would be a good idea…..It’s a nightmare
      I run a small business from home (a web site) and have not been on line for 2 days now and not looking likely to for the foreseeable future
      Apart from Sky taking 3 weeks to get my order sorted out along with about 50 phone calls, this is where I am now.
      The day of transfer came 18-9 and now I have no broadband at all. I have no login or password and my phone has been dead all day (As soon as sky activate the line AOL ceases)
      Today I have spent 4 hours at different times waiting to speak to sky people then being put on hold then insulted …….”If you need to get on the internet so badly why don’t you go to an internet cafe” put on hold for 15 mins then cut off. After another 80 minutes in a queue waiting for an answer I get to speak to a techy who asks me if my equipment is plugged in …I asked him to please put me onto a manager (and I admit I did raise my voice) his response was “he didn’t like my attitude and he hoped I would enjoy going back in the queue for another hour “and cut me off
      I am at my wits end, I have tried to sort the problem with BT and they tell me contact with BT wholesale can only be done by my ISP……..
      I rang and waited for another 40 mins and after explaining for the tenth time today my problem I was told someone would ring me (on my phone that s not working )in the next 48 hours and the phone put down

      I though AOL were crap ……….but this lot are unbelievable
      In the morning I will cancel and go to Tiscali

      I’m not good at this and need help …..Is there anyone I can complain to apart from sky???
      I can’t face ringing them again

    22. Wendy & Rick, we are not talking about Sky as an ISP, we are merely talking about Sky’s software that they offer to customers that have a broadband connection called ‘Sky By Broadband’ which is abusing our bandwidth. There is nothing wrong with Sky as an ISP as far as i’m aware.

    23. Came across kservice.exe while investigating another issue.

      I used sky by broadband for a couple of weeks but decided to uninstall as there wasnt much of interest for me. At that time i had no idea about kservice.exe.

      However this morning i could not load any pages in any browser (firefox, opera, netscape, ie) I also had an error dialog about Delivery Service Manager, and a switch application dialog which i could not get rid of.

      I checked on my other pc and browsers fine there, so my connection and router are okey.

      Strange i thought, virus i thought !!.

      Long story short – bit more investigation brought me to kservice.exe. Looks like it has gone wonky or corrupt. I disabled the service in admin services manager, rebooted and everything fine.

      Just so people are aware there may be puzzling issues if the kontiki software goes corrupt or wonky.

      Thanks

      Brian

    24. I came across Kservice after I googled it when I noticed it was sucking up memory. I don’t have Sky. I can only guess it is also used by 4OD which I do have and which automatically loads on statup – again without permission.

    25. Thanks for this post, it was very helpful.
      downloaded 40D a while ago and noticed how slow everything was. then just now had cyberhawk tell me about a program logging me and googled kservice and kontiki…
      Have uninstalled the virtually useless 4oD that didn’t offer me anything i wanted to watch unless i was paying for it and then had the cheek to constantly run and suck up my memory!
      boo to 4od

    26. Thank you for all the information I to have removed the Sky by broadband. I have been blaming my isp for the bandwidth problems and will now have to appologise.

      Thanks for your help.

    27. Interesting stuff…

      Also noticed that Channel 4 4OD also makes use of the KService p2p app.

      Andy

    28. Pingback: Albert G
    29. I am on the BBC iMP Beta and can confirm it uses the same ‘KService’ to distribute media, even after the program is closed.

    30. Tried the new BBC player and uninstalled it…the KService.exe was not removed. if you uninstall, you must manually remove the kservice…

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