[New-bugs-announce] [issue39401] Unsafe dll loading in getpathp.c on Win7

Anthony Wee report at bugs.python.org
Mon Jan 20 20:02:15 EST 2020

New submission from Anthony Wee <antxwee at gmail.com>:

On Win7, running Python in the terminal will attempt to load the "api-ms-win-core-path-l1-1-0.dll" from various paths outside of the Python directory and the C:\Windows\System32 directories. This behavior can be verified using Process Monitor (see attachment).

This is happening due to direct calls to LoadLibraryW() in getpathp.c without any "LOAD_LIBRARY_SEARCH*" flags.

In join():


and canonicalize():


For both cases, the methods they are trying to load from api-ms-win-core-path-l1-1-0.dll (PathCchCanonicalizeEx and PathCchCombineEx) were introduced in Win8. 

I tested on Win7 and Win10 and they differ in how they load these api-ms-win-* dll's and whether they appear in process monitor. In Win7, a CreateFile event appears in procmon, while in Win10 it seems like the OS is automatically loading the module from kernelbase.dll. Also in Win7 the loading of api-ms-win-core-path-l1-1-0.dll will fail while in Win10 it succeeds. However, in Win7 when it fails it results in the standard dll search strategy, which will eventually search outside of the secure directories such as the directories in the PATH env var: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/win32/dlls/dynamic-link-library-search-order

Each of the problematic methods in cpython have a pattern of attempting to load the dll, then falling back to an older version of the method. Thus in Win7, the dll fails to load and it falls back to the older version of the method. In Win10, the dll load succeeds and we use the new versions of the methods.

I'm working on a fix to pass the LOAD_LIBRARY_SEARCH_DEFAULT_DIRS flag to limit to the dll search path scope.

files: python unsafe dll loading.png
messages: 360348
nosy: anthonywee
priority: normal
severity: normal
status: open
title: Unsafe dll loading in getpathp.c on Win7
Added file: https://bugs.python.org/file48855/python unsafe dll loading.png

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