How PyArmor Does It

Look at what happened after is obfuscated by PyArmor. Here are the files list in the output path dist:, or _pytransform.dll in Windows, _pytransform.dylib in MacOS

dist/ is obfuscated script, the content is:

from pytransform import pyarmor_runtime

__pyarmor__(__name__, __file__, b'\x06\x0f...')

All the other extra files called Runtime Files, which are required to run or import obfuscated scripts. So long as runtime files are in any Python path, obfuscated script dist/ can be used as normal Python script. That is to say:

The original python scripts can be replaced with obfuscated scripts seamlessly.

How to Obfuscate Python Scripts

How to obfuscate python scripts by PyArmor?

First compile python script to code object:

char *filename = "";
char *source = read_file( filename );
PyCodeObject *co = Py_CompileString( source, "<frozen foo>", Py_file_input );

Then change code object as the following way

  • Wrap byte code co_code within a try...finally block:

    wrap header:
            LOAD_GLOBALS    N (__armor_enter__)     N = length of co_consts
            CALL_FUNCTION   0
            SETUP_FINALLY   X (jump to wrap footer) X = size of original byte code
    changed original byte code:
            Increase oparg of each absolute jump instruction by the size of wrap header
            Obfuscate original byte code
    wrap footer:
            LOAD_GLOBALS    N + 1 (__armor_exit__)
            CALL_FUNCTION   0
  • Append function names __armor_enter, __armor_exit__ to co_consts

  • Increase co_stacksize by 2

  • Set CO_OBFUSCAED (0x80000000) flag in co_flags

  • Change all code objects in the co_consts recursively

Next serializing reformed code object and obfuscate it to protect constants and literal strings:

char *string_code = marshal.dumps( co );
char *obfuscated_code = obfuscate_algorithm( string_code  );

Finally generate obfuscated script:

sprintf( buf, "__pyarmor__(__name__, __file__, b'%s')", obfuscated_code );
save_file( "dist/", buf );

The obfuscated script is a normal Python script, it looks like this:

__pyarmor__(__name__, __file__, b'\x01\x0a...')

How to Run Obfuscated Script

How to run obfuscated script dist/ by Python Interpreter?

The first 2 lines, which called Bootstrap Code:

from pytransform import pyarmor_runtime

It will fulfil the following tasks

  • Load dynamic library _pytransform by ctypes
  • Check dist/license.lic is valid or not
  • Add 3 cfunctions to module builtins: __pyarmor__, __armor_enter__, __armor_exit__

The next code line in dist/ is:

__pyarmor__(__name__, __file__, b'\x01\x0a...')

__pyarmor__ is called, it will import original module from obfuscated code:

static PyObject *
__pyarmor__(char *name, char *pathname, unsigned char *obfuscated_code)
    char *string_code = restore_obfuscated_code( obfuscated_code );
    PyCodeObject *co = marshal.loads( string_code );
    return PyImport_ExecCodeModuleEx( name, co, pathname );

After that, in the runtime of this python interpreter

  • __armor_enter__ is called as soon as code object is executed, it will restore byte-code of this code object:

    static PyObject *
    __armor_enter__(PyObject *self, PyObject *args)
        // Got code object
        PyFrameObject *frame = PyEval_GetFrame();
        PyCodeObject *f_code = frame->f_code;
        // Increase refcalls of this code object
        // Borrow co_names->ob_refcnt as call counter
        // Generally it will not increased  by Python Interpreter
        PyObject *refcalls = f_code->co_names;
        refcalls->ob_refcnt ++;
        // Restore byte code if it's obfuscated
        if (IS_OBFUSCATED(f_code->co_flags)) {
  • __armor_exit__ is called so long as code object completed execution, it will obfuscate byte-code again:

    static PyObject *
    __armor_exit__(PyObject *self, PyObject *args)
        // Got code object
        PyFrameObject *frame = PyEval_GetFrame();
        PyCodeObject *f_code = frame->f_code;
        // Decrease refcalls of this code object
        PyObject *refcalls = f_code->co_names;
        refcalls->ob_refcnt --;
        // Obfuscate byte code only if this code object isn't used by any function
        // In multi-threads or recursive call, one code object may be referenced
        // by many functions at the same time
        if (refcalls->ob_refcnt == 1) {
        // Clear f_locals in this frame

Special Handling of Entry Script

There are 2 extra changes for entry script:

  • Before obfuscating, insert protection code to entry script.
  • After obfuscated, insert bootstrap code to obfuscated script.

Before obfuscating entry scipt, PyArmor will search the content line by line. If there is line like this:

# {PyArmor Protection Code}

PyArmor will replace this line with protection code.

If there is line like this:

# {No PyArmor Protection Code}

PyArmor will not patch this script.

If both of lines aren’t found, insert protection code before the line:

if __name__ == '__main__'

Do nothing if no __main__ line found.

Here it’s the default template of protection code:

def protect_pytransform():

    import pytransform

    def check_obfuscated_script():
        CO_SIZES = 49, 46, 38, 36
        CO_NAMES = set(['pytransform', 'pyarmor_runtime', '__pyarmor__',
                        '__name__', '__file__'])
        co = pytransform.sys._getframe(3).f_code
        if not ((set(co.co_names) <= CO_NAMES)
                and (len(co.co_code) in CO_SIZES)):
            raise RuntimeError('Unexpected obfuscated script')

    def check_mod_pytransform():
        CO_NAMES = set(['Exception', 'LoadLibrary', 'None', 'PYFUNCTYPE',
                        'PytransformError', '__file__', '_debug_mode',
                        '_get_error_msg', '_handle', '_load_library',
                        '_pytransform', 'abspath', 'basename', 'byteorder',
                        'c_char_p', 'c_int', 'c_void_p', 'calcsize', 'cdll',
                        'dirname', 'encode', 'exists', 'exit',
                        'format_platname', 'get_error_msg', 'init_pytransform',
                        'init_runtime', 'int', 'isinstance', 'join', 'lower',
                        'normpath', 'os', 'path', 'platform', 'print',
                        'pyarmor_init', 'pythonapi', 'restype', 'set_option',
                        'str', 'struct', 'sys', 'system', 'version_info'])

        colist = []

        for name in ('dllmethod', 'init_pytransform', 'init_runtime',
                     '_load_library', 'pyarmor_init', 'pyarmor_runtime'):
            colist.append(getattr(pytransform, name).{code})

        for name in ('init_pytransform', 'init_runtime'):
            colist.append(getattr(pytransform, name).{closure}[0].cell_contents.{code})

        for co in colist:
            if not (set(co.co_names) < CO_NAMES):
                raise RuntimeError('Unexpected')

    def check_lib_pytransform():
        filename = pytransform.os.path.join({rpath}, {filename})
        size = {size}
        n = size >> 2
        with open(filename, 'rb') as f:
            buf =
        fmt = 'I' * n
        checksum = sum(pytransform.struct.unpack(fmt, buf)) & 0xFFFFFFFF
        if not checksum == {checksum}:
            raise RuntimeError("Unexpected %s" % filename)
    except Exception as e:
        print("Protection Fault: %s" % e)


All the string template {xxx} will be replaced with real value by PyArmor.

To prevent PyArmor from inserting this protection code, pass –no-cross-protection as obfuscating the scripts:

pyarmor obfuscate --no-cross-protection

After the entry script is obfuscated, the Bootstrap Code will be inserted at the beginning of the obfuscated script.