On Twitter a few days ago, Aaron Nelson, aka @SQLvariant, was trying to get a command parameter’s completion results to change based on the value of another parameter. It turns out, this is pretty simple with argument completers using PSv5+ (you can do this in PSv3+, but you’ll want to take on a dependency from the TabExpansionPlusPlus module).


The trick is using the fifth parameter that the PS engine passes into the parameter’s registered argument completer, which is usually called $fakeBoundParameter (that’s the parameter name I saw in TabExpansionPlusPlus, so that’s what I’ve always used…you can name it whatever you’d like in the param() block for your completer, though). Don’t worry if that doesn’t make sense; you can still work through the example code below, and if it still doesn’t make sense, there’s a link to a video at the end of the blog post that describes this in more detail.


To demonstrate what I’m talking about, let’s use a very simple example. Let’s assume we have a command, Get-Food, that has -FoodType and -FoodName parameters:
function Get-Food {
        [string] $FoodType,
        [string] $FoodName

    "FoodName: ${FoodName}`nFoodType: ${FoodType}"
I didn’t say it was a useful command 🙂

Also assume that you’ve got a hash table that has some food types and food names in it, which are the source of the suggested parameter values:
$Foods = @{
    Fruit = echo Apple, Orange, Banana, Peach
    Vegetable = echo Asparagus, Carrot, Edamame, Broccoli, Spinach
    Protein = echo Beef, Pork, Chicken, Fish, Edamame
    Grain = echo Rice, Oatmeal, Pasta, Bread
The simple command would look a lot more polished if you could not only have -FoodType and -FoodName suggest values (that’s easy!), but if you could also have the suggested values change if you’ve already provided a parameter. So if -FoodType is ‘Fruit’, you’d want -FoodName to only suggest the fruits from the hash table. Alternatively, if -FoodName is ‘Apple’, -FoodType should only suggest ‘Fruit’.


Well, with argument completers, you can do that without too much work. To do it, we’ll use the Register-ArgumentCompleter command, which takes -ParameterName, -ScriptBlock, and, optionally, -CommandName parameters. After calling it, PowerShell will invoke the scriptblock each time a completion result is needed, e.g., when IntelliSense needs to display some information, or when a user presses [TAB] or [TAB] + [SPACE]. When it invokes the scriptblock, it will also pass some parameters to it, including a hash table that we’re going to name $fakeBoundParameter. That hash table will contain simple parameter values that have already been bound (I say simple because if you try to put an expression in the parameter value, $fakeBoundParameter won’t have that information since it could potentially cause side effects, and you don’t want parameter completion to potentially make changes on your system. It’ll have the info if you stick to simple strings, though). To see what I’m talking about, here’s how you’d register completers for the -FoodType and -FoodName parameters:
Register-ArgumentCompleter -ParameterName FoodType -ScriptBlock {
    param($commandName, $parameterName, $wordToComplete, $commandAst, $fakeBoundParameter)

    $FoodNameFilter = $fakeBoundParameter.FoodName

    $Foods.Keys | where { $_ -like "${wordToComplete}*" } | where {
        $Foods.$_ -like "${FoodNameFilter}*"
    } | ForEach-Object {
        New-Object System.Management.Automation.CompletionResult (

Register-ArgumentCompleter -ParameterName FoodName -ScriptBlock {
    param($commandName, $parameterName, $wordToComplete, $commandAst, $fakeBoundParameter)

    $TypeFilter = $fakeBoundParameter.FoodType

    $Foods.Keys | where { $_ -like "${TypeFilter}*" } | ForEach-Object { $Foods.$_ |
        where { $_ -like "${wordToComplete}*" } } |
        sort -Unique | ForEach-Object {
            New-Object System.Management.Automation.CompletionResult (
After running those, Get-Food‘s parameters should filter each other as described earlier:


Note that we didn’t actually need two separate scriptblocks when calling Register-ArgumentCompleter above. Notice that there are $commandName and $parameterName parameters that are passed when the scriptblock gets invoked (again, like any PS function, the parameter names are up to you…I’m just using the same param() block that TabExpansionPlusPlus used). You can use those to figure out what type of completion results to return. Then you can save the scriptblock, and just re-use it in the different calls to Register-ArgumentCompleter. Here’s what that might look like:
$Foods = @{
    Fruit = echo Apple, Orange, Banana, Peach
    Vegetable = echo Asparagus, Carrot, Edamame, Broccoli, Spinach
    Protein = echo Beef, Pork, Chicken, Fish, Edamame
    Grain = echo Rice, Oatmeal, Pasta, Bread

function Get-Food {
        [string] $FoodType,
        [string] $FoodName

    "FoodName: ${FoodName}`nFoodType: ${FoodType}"

$GetFoodCompleter = {
    param($commandName, $parameterName, $wordToComplete, $commandAst, $fakeBoundParameter)
       $CurrKey = $_
       switch ($parameterName) {
           FoodName {
               $Source = $CurrKey
               $ReturnValue = $Foods[$CurrKey]
               $Filter = $fakeBoundParameter.FoodType
           FoodType {
               $Source = $Foods[$CurrKey]
               $ReturnValue = $CurrKey
               $Filter = $fakeBoundParameter.FoodName

           default { return }
       if ($Source -like "${Filter}*") {
    }) | sort -Unique | where { $_ -like "${wordToComplete}*" } | ForEach-Object {
       [System.Management.Automation.CompletionResult]::new($_, $_, 'ParameterValue', $_)
echo FoodType, FoodName | ForEach-Object {
    Register-ArgumentCompleter -CommandName Get-Food -ParameterName $_ -ScriptBlock $GetFoodCompleter
In this example it doesn’t really matter, but it makes sense in a lot of other scenarios to keep that kind of code together.


By the way, this barely scratches the surface of what you can do with argument completers. For more information, you can check out this presentation I gave at the PowerShell + DevOps Global Summit 2016 (The code samples from that presentation are on GitHub).
The other day, I got a comment on an old post asking about the status of using conditional ACEs (something I said in the post that I was planning to support in the PAC module). Over the past few nights, I played around with parsing and creating them. What I have so far is not even close to being finished, but I thought I might share it to see if there’s any interest in trying to do more with it.


First, what is a conditional ACE? It’s an ACE that is only effective in an ACL if a certain condition is met. For instance, maybe you want to allow Users to have Modify rights to a shared folder if the computer they’re using is a member of ‘Domain Controllers’ (that’s not a very good example, but you should be able to create that condition out of the box for a Server 2012 R2 or higher computer in a test domain without any extra work). Here’s what that would look like in the GUI and in SDDL form:


The conditions can get A LOT more specific (and complicated) than that, too. If you do some setup in your domain, you can actually have conditions check certain “claims” that apply to users, devices, and/or resources. Scenarios then become available where certain files (resources) can be dynamically classified (a separate technology) to only allow access from users/devices that meet certain conditions. Conditions like being in a certain department, or from a certain country (defined in Active Directory). I don’t want to spend too much time on explaining this because I would probably do such a bad job that it would turn you away from wanting to look into it any more.


Back to the simple example from the screenshot above: besides using the GUI and knowing how to write that SDDL by hand, I haven’t been able to find another way to create those conditions. The .NET Framework is able to give you the binary form of the condition, but that’s about it. The binary format is documented pretty well here, though, so I took that and messed around with some proof of concept code to parse and create the conditions. That code can be found in this GIST. Please note the following about it:
  • It’s meant to be used with Add-Type in PowerShell
  • I’m not really a developer, so that’s definitely not the prettiest and most efficient code. It’s going to change A LOT, too. Now that I have a better understanding of the binary format of the conditions (I hope), I’ll probably try to come up with a better design. If you have any suggestions, let me know.
  • There are still conditions this can’t handle. Non-Unicode encoded string tokens and numeric tokens aren’t supported yet. They’re coming, though…
  • The text form of the conditions is different that what the GUI shows. I’m playing around with making it closer to what you’d see with PowerShell, e.g., ‘-eq’ instead of ‘==’, ‘-and’ instead of ‘&&’, etc. I plan on having the text represenation being configurable so that you can have the GUI version, the SDDL version, or the PAC module’s version displayed.
  • Please only use it in a test environment.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s go over some examples. First, how can you read this stuff? If you use the PAC module or earlier, you’ll get something that looks like this:
That’s not very helpful. The only indication that the conditional ACE is special is the ‘(CB)’ at the end of the AceType column (that stands for Callback). There is hope, though! If you’d like to read conditions right now, you can try something like this (PAC module is required)…
# Add C# code from here: https://gist.github.com/rohnedwards/b5e7ca34a062d765bf4a
Add-Type -Path C:\path\to\code\from\gist.cs

Get-PacAccessControlEntry c:\folder |
    Add-Member -MemberType ScriptProperty -Name Condition -Value {
        $Ace = $this.GetBaseAceObject()
        if ($Ace.IsCallback) {
    } -PassThru |
    tee -var Aces |
    select AceType, Principal, AccessMask, InheritedFrom, AppliesTo, Condition |
… and get someting that looks like this:


What if you want to add a conditional ACE? That’s actually pretty nasty right now. Besides being forced to create your own condition and ACE using C# classes, I think you also have to add your new ACE with the RawSecurityDescriptor class, which means you are responsible for the position in the DACL where the ACE ends up. It can be done, though: (The PAC module isn’t needed for this; you do need the code from the GIST above, though)


First, let’s create the condition from the simple example above:
Add-Type -Path C:\path\to\code\from\gist.cs

# Create an operator token:
$Operator = New-Object Testing.ConditionalAceOperatorToken "Device_member_Of"

# Device_member_Of is a unary operator, so create a unary condition with
# the $Operator
$Condition = New-Object Testing.ConditionalAceUnaryCondition $Operator

# This unary condition needs an array of SID tokens. In our example, we have a single
# SID we're using, so let's look that up first:
$DcGroupSid = ([System.Security.Principal.NTAccount] "Domain Controllers").Translate([System.Security.Principal.SecurityIdentifier])

# Then create a composite token, which is going to contain the list of SID tokens:
$CompositeToken = New-Object Testing.ConditionalAceCompositeToken

# Then add a SID token to the composite token:
$CompositeToken.Tokens.Add((New-Object Testing.ConditionalAceSecurityIdentifierToken $DcGroupSid))

# Finally, assign the operand
$Condition.Operand = New-Object Testing.ConditionalAceConditionalLiteralOperand $CompositeToken
Next, let’s create an ACE with that condition:
$NewAce = New-Object System.Security.AccessControl.CommonAce (
    "ContainerInherit, ObjectInherit", # ACE flags
    ([ROE.PowerShellAccessControl.PacPrincipal] "Users").SecurityIdentifier,
And, finally, let’s add the ACE to the DACL:
$Path = "C:\folder"
$Acl = Get-Acl $Path
$RawSD = New-Object System.Security.AccessControl.RawSecurityDescriptor $Acl.Sddl

# Figure out where the ACE should go (this is to preserve canonical ordering; I
# didn't think much about this, so this might not always work):
for ($i = 0; $i -lt $RawSD.DiscretionaryAcl.Count; $i++) {
    $CurrentAce = $RawSD.DiscretionaryAcl[$i]
    if ($CurrentAce.IsInherited -or $CurrentAce.AceQualifier.ToString() -eq "AccessAllowed") { break }
$RawSD.DiscretionaryAcl.InsertAce($i, $NewAce)

# Save to SD and write it back to folder
(Get-Item $Path).SetAccessControl($Acl)
And we’re done! Don’t worry, this shouldn’t always be this hard. Some cmdlets to create conditions will help a lot. Also, the PAC module’s New-PacAccessControlEntry, Add-PacAccessControlEntry, and Remove-PacAccessControlEntry commands should know how to add these ACEs one day.


So, is this useful to anyone, and should I spend time trying to get the PAC module to handle this? Are there any scenarios you have that you’d like to see an example for? Please leave a comment and/or contact me on Twitter (@magicrohn) if so.

There’s a new version of the PAC 4.0 Preview available on the TechNet Script Repository. There’s still no official documentation in the new version, so I’ll briefly mention some of the changes below. If you missed it, the first post on the 4.0 preview is here:

Modification Cmdlets

The following cmdlets are now available:

  • New-AccessControlEntry
  • Add-AccessControlEntry
  • Remove-AccessControlEntry
  • Enable-AclInheritance
  • Disable-AclInheritance
  • Set-Owner
  • Set-SecurityDescriptor

Like in previous versions, these commands can be used to work with native .NET security descriptor objects (output from Get-Acl), PAC security descriptor objects (output from Get-SecurityDescriptor), or directly with a whole bunch of objects. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

Working with .NET Security Descriptor Objects

You’re probably familiar with using the native PowerShell and .NET commands to work with security descriptors. You do something like this:

$Acl = Get-Acl C:\powershell
$Ace = New-Object System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemAccessRule(
 "ContainerInherit, ObjectInherit",
$Acl | Set-Acl

That’s a lot of work to add a single Allow ACE giving Everyone Write access. You can use the PAC module to shorten that code to this:

$Acl = Get-Acl C:\powershell
$Ace = New-AccessControlEntry -Principal Everyone -FolderRights Write
$Acl | Set-Acl

You can also just cut out the New-AccessControlEntry call completely, which would shorten the snippet to this:

$Acl = Get-Acl C:\powershell
$Acl | Add-AccessControlEntry -Principal Everyone -FolderRights Write
$Acl | Set-Acl

And finally, one more way to shorten that:

Get-Acl C:\powershell | Add-AccessControlEntry -Principal Everyone -FolderRights Write -Apply

When you use -Apply like that, the module will actually call Set-SecurityDescriptor, so you’re not just using native PowerShell and .NET commands at that point.

Working with PAC Security Descriptor Objects

This actually looks just like working with the .NET security descriptor objects, except you use Get-SecurityDescriptor instead of Get-Acl, and Set-SecurityDescriptor instead of Set-Acl.

Working With Objects Directly

You don’t even need to use Get-Acl/Set-Acl or Get-SecurityDescriptor/Set-SecurityDescriptor. There are a ton of .NET and WMI instances that the module knows how to work with. These commands would be valid:

# This defaults to enabling inheritance on the DACL, but the SACL can be controlled, too
dir C:\powershell -Recurse |
Enable-AclInheritance -PassThru |
Remove-AccessControlEntry -RemoveAllAccessEntries -Apply

# -Apply isn't necessary here because the input object isn't a security descriptor. -Force
# would stop it from prompting you before saving the security descriptor.
Get-Service bits | Add-AccessControlEntry -Principal Users -ServiceRights Start, Stop

Get-SmbShare share | Add-AccessControlEntry -Principal Everyone -AccessMask ([ROE.PowerShellAccessControl.Enums.ShareRights]::FullControl)

PacSDOption Common Parameter

Most of the commands in the module have a parameter named -PacSDOption. That’s how you control things like recursing through child items (where supported), getting the SACL, bypassing the ACL check (the -BypassAclCheck parameter from the last post doesn’t exist as a direct cmdlet parameter anymore). The parameter’s input is from the New-PacCommandOption cmdlet. Here’s an example:

# Get the DACL and SACL entries for C:\powershell, even if you don't have permission to view them
Get-AccessControlEntry C:\powershell -PacSDOption (New-PacCommandOption -BypassAclCheck -Audit)

# Get the DACL and SACL entries for C:\powershell and any child folders (even if long paths are there):
Get-AccessControlEntry C:\powershell -PacSDOption (New-PacCommandOption -Recurse -Directory)


The default formatting of a security descriptor now shows both the DACL and the SACL:


The module will also check for the existence of a hash table named $PacOptions, and change how ACEs are displayed depending on its value. For now, there’s a single display option ‘DontAbbreviateAppliesTo’ that let’s you control how the AppliesTo column is displayed on ACEs. Here’s an example of how to create the hash table and change the AppliesTo setting:


Remember that this is still a preview version, so you’ll probably come across some things that don’t work the way they’re supposed to. If you find a problem, have a question about how to do something, or have a suggestion, please either post a comment below or send me an e-mail (magicrohn -at- outlook.com). Since there’s no documentation yet, I really don’t have a problem answering any questions.

Have you ever tried to use PowerShell (or .NET) to mess with file or folder permissions and wondered what the ‘Synchronize’ right means? It pops up all over the place, like on existing ACEs:

And on new ACEs that you create (even if you don’t include it):


If you try to check permissions using the ACL Editor, you won’t see it anywhere. Here’s the ACE for ‘Users’ from the ‘C:\powershell’ folder shown in the first screenshot above:


So, what is this mysterious right, and why does PowerShell/.NET insist on showing it everywhere? Let’s start with the definition from MSDN:

The right to use the object for synchronization. This enables a thread to wait until the object is in the signaled state. Some object types do not support this access right.

The first time I read that, I didn’t think it sounded all that important. It turns out, though, that it’s critical for working with files and folders.

Before I explain a little bit more about why that right shows up, let’s briefly cover what makes up an access control entry’s access mask. It’s a 32-bit integer, which means that, theoretically, there are 32 different rights that can be controlled (32 bits means 32 different on/off switches). In practice, you don’t get that many rights, though. No matter what type of object you’re working with (file, folder, registry key, printer, service, AD object, etc), those 32-bits are broken down like this:

  • Bits 0-15 are used for object specific rights. These rights differ between object types, e.g., bit 1 for a file means ‘CreateFiles’, for a registry key means ‘SetValue’, and for an AD object means ‘DeleteChild’.
  • Bits 16-23 are used for “Standard access rights”. These rights are shared among the different types of securable objects, e.g., bit 16 corresponds to the right to delete the object, and it means the same thing for files, folders, registry keys, etc. As far as I know, only bits 16-20 in this range do anything.
  • Bit 24 controls access to the SACL.
  • Bits 25-27 are reserved and not currently used.
  • Bits 28-31 are “Generic access rights”. They are a shorthand way of specifying four common access masks: read, write, execute, and all (full control). These bits are translated into a combination of object specific and standard access rights, and the translation differs depending on the type of object the ACE belongs to.

The ‘Synchronize’ right is controlled by bit 20, so it’s one of the standard access rights:

PS> [math]::Log([System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemRights]::Synchronize, 2)

If you manage to remove the right (or if you explicitly deny it), bad things will happen. For folders, you won’t be able to see child items. For files, you won’t be able to view the contents. It turns out some very important Win32 APIs require that right to be granted, at least for file and folder objects. You get a hint of it from this MSDN page:

Note that you cannot use an access-denied ACE to deny only GENERIC_READ or only GENERIC_WRITE access to a file. This is because for file objects, the generic mappings for both GENERIC_READ or GENERIC_WRITE include the SYNCHRONIZE access right. If an ACE denies GENERIC_WRITE access to a trustee, and the trustee requests GENERIC_READ access, the request will fail because the request implicitly includes SYNCHRONIZE access which is implicitly denied by the ACE, and vice versa. Instead of using access-denied ACEs, use access-allowed ACEs to explicitly allow the permitted access rights.

I couldn’t do a good job of translating the actual definition of ‘Synchronize’ earlier, but I think I can translate this paragraph. It’s saying that you can’t create an access denied ACE for just GENERIC_READ or just GENERIC_WRITE as they are defined, because each of those sets of rights include ‘Synchronize’, and you’d effectively be denying both sets of rights. GENERIC_READ (bit 31) and GENERIC_WRITE (bit 30) are two of the four “Generic access rights” mentioned above. When they’re translated/mapped to their object-specific rights, they make up a combination of bits 0-20 of the access mask (object specific and standard rights).

Once translated, GENERIC_READ is very similar to [FileSystemRights]::Read, and GENERIC_WRITE is very similar to [FileSystemRights]::Write. From the same MSDN page, here’s a list of the object specific and standard rights that make up the generic rights (the [FileSystemRights] equivalents are listed in parenthesis):

    • FILE_READ_ATTRIBUTES (ReadAttributes)
    • FILE_READ_DATA (ReadData)
    • FILE_READ_EA (ReadExtendedAttributes)
    • STANDARD_RIGHTS_READ (ReadPermissions)
    • SYNCHRONIZE (Synchronize)
    • FILE_APPEND_DATA (AppendData)
    • FILE_WRITE_ATTRIBUTES (WriteAttributes)
    • FILE_WRITE_DATA (WriteData)
    • FILE_WRITE_EA (WriteExtendedAttributes)
    • STANDARD_RIGHTS_WRITE (ReadPermissions)
    • SYNCHRONIZE (Synchronize)

The [FileSystemRights] enumeration has values for Read and Write that almost match what is defined above. Since PowerShell coerces strings into enumerations, and enumerations will attempt to show you combined flags where possible, let’s take a look at how those rights are seen when they’re cast as a FileSystemRights enumeration:


Hopefully that makes sense. It’s showing that GENERIC_READ in [FileSystemRights] translates to ‘Read, Synchronize’, which means that GENERIC_READ is not the same as [FileSystemRights]::Read since ‘Read’ doesn’t include ‘Synchronize’. GENERIC_WRITE and [FileSystemRights]::Write are almost the same, except [FileSystemRights]::Write is also missing ‘ReadPermissions’ in addition to ‘Synchronize’.

So, why don’t the generic rights translate to the same numeric values for [FileSystemRights]? It goes back to the warning from the MSDN page above: if you want to deny ‘Read’ or ‘Write’ only, you have to remove the ‘Synchronize’ right first. The ACL editor does this, and it doesn’t give you any control over the ‘Synchronize’ right: if you create a new ACE it will determine whether or not the right is added, and it never shows it to you. The creators of the file/folder access control .NET classes didn’t get that luxury. Each ACE has a numeric access mask, and that access mask needs to be translated with a flags enumeration. If the ‘Synchronize’ bit is set, then the flags enumeration string is going to show it, and vice versa. So, they did the next best thing: they pulled ‘Synchronize’ from the combined ‘Read’ and ‘Write’ rights in the [FileSystemRights] enumeration, and made sure that creating a new allow ACE or audit rule automatically adds the ‘Synchronize’ right, and creating a new deny ACE removes it. If an application wants to hide the ‘Synchronize’ right from the end user, that’s fine, but the underlying .NET object will show it if it’s present.

I hope that makes sense and clears that up. If not, please leave a comment where something needs to be explained a little better, and I’ll try to expand on it some more.

Happy New Year! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on here, but I’ve still been working on the module. I posted a preview of version 4.0 of my access control module on the TechNet Script Repository. It only has three commands right now and can only view security descriptors, but I think it’s a huge improvement over version 3.0. Some of the biggest changes are listed below:


The most noticeable difference between versions 3 and 4 has to be the speed improvement. Version 3.0 added Active Directory support, and that extra functionality really highlighted just how slow the module had become. Version 4.0 is compiled C# code (it’s actually my first C# project). Check out the speed difference:


I cut the command off, but it was just calling Get-SecurityDescriptor and Get-Acl against ‘C:\Windows’ 20 times and using Measure-Command and Measure-Object to get the average time. As you can see, Get-SecurityDescriptor is as fast (and sometimes faster) than the native Get-Acl cmdlet (this was by no means a rigorous test, so I won’t say it’s always faster than the native cmdlet).

Better Long Path Support/Inline Path Options

Version 3.0 supported using paths longer than 255 characters, but just barely. You either had to know the full path or the depth in a folder structure of the file or folder you were after. For example, you could pass ‘c:\longpathliveshere\*\*\*’ as a path to the functions, and it would resolve to any files or folders that were 3 levels deeper than ‘C:\longpathliveshere’, no matter how long the resulting paths were (this worked by proxying the Resolve-Path cmdlet inside the module scope and using the Microsoft.Experimental.IO.LongPathDirectory class to handle any paths that were too long). You couldn’t use it to recurse through a folder that had paths that were too long, though.

Version 4.0 will take care of that, even though I’m not 100% sure how yet. Right now, there’s a cmdlet called Get-PacPathInfo that takes any object and attempts to get the necessary information from it to get a security descriptor. The cmdlet has -Recurse, -Directory, and -File switches that allow you to, where appropriate, recurse through a structure and filter just on files and/or folders. So if you feed it a service object and use any of those switches, they’re going to be ignored. -Recurse will work on registry key and folder objects, though.

You can take the output from that cmdlet and pipe it into Get-SecurityDescriptor or Get-AccessControlEntry. I’m not sure that I’ll leave that cmdlet in the module, though, because that same functionality can be achieved through inline path options. Right now, the syntax for those is very similar to inline regex options:


Right now there are four inline options: l for literal path, r for recurse, d for directory, and f for file.

Display Options

This is something else that’s definitely not in its final form. I’ve been playing around with displaying ACEs differently on the fly. If you use Get-AccessControlEntry, you’ll find a -DisplayOptions parameter that gives you lots of different switches to try that will change how the ACEs are shown. Try each of these yourself and see if you can spot the differences:

PS> Get-AccessControlEntry C:\Windows
PS> Get-AccessControlEntry C:\Windows -DisplayOptions DontMergeAces
PS> Get-AccessControlEntry C:\Windows -DisplayOptions DontMergeAces, DontMapGenericRights
PS> Get-AccessControlEntry C:\Windows -DisplayOptions ShowDetailedRights

Backup Mode

Have you ever encountered a file, folder, or registry key that you didn’t have access to as an administrator? If you wanted to view/use the object, or even to view the DACL or SACL, you had to take ownership of the object first. Well, now you can view the security descriptor’s contents without having to take ownership (assuming you have the SeBackupPrivilege assigned):


You can try it yourself. It works on files, folders, and registry keys right now. If you don’t have a file or folder that is denying you access as an administrator lying around, you can do the following:

1. Create a file, folder, or registry key
2. Make sure it has some ACEs, either inherited or explicitly defined
3. Add an ACE that denies ‘Full Control’ to your user
4. Make sure to set another user as the owner

To test, make sure you can’t open the folder. Then try Get-SecurityDescriptor with the -BypassAclCheck switch and take a look.

Oh, here’s a semi-unrelated trick that should work with the new path system if you’ve got access to a remote computer (I’m already planning to one day put this into a PS provider that also includes the ability to filter on value names and data, unless someone else beats me to it):

PS> Get-SecurityDescriptor \\computername\hklm:\software\*
Friendly AppliesTo

One area where I really like using my module over the native .NET access control classes is showing what exactly an ACE applies to. For non-containers, i.e., files, services, printers, etc, that’s easy since it only applies to the object itself. Folders, though, can have ACEs that apply to themselves, their sub folders, and their files. Registry keys and WMI namespaces can have ACEs that apply to themselves and/or any child containers. We’re not going to cover AD objects right now, but they have different ways that ACEs can be applied. The .NET classes relay this information through the InheritanceFlags and PropagationFlags properties of an ACE. The PAC module relays it through the AppliesTo property (before version 4.0, there was also an OnlyAppliesHere property, but that’s now contained in AppliesTo as well). When you’re looking at the default table formatting of an object’s ACEs, AppliesTo is shown in an abbreviated form:

In version 3.0, the list view would spell those letters out in the generic Object, ChildContainer, ChildObjects form. Version 4.0 actually shows you object specific names, though. Here’s Get-AccessControlEntry’s output being sent to Select-Object showing the short and long forms of the AppliesTo property in table form:


If you like, you can try it out on a registry key and see what it looks like.

I personally like the abbreviated view better in the table format, but others may like the longer version in that view. This is an area where I’m still trying to figure out how I’d like to give the user the ability to change the view, either temporarily or permanently.

There are lots of other small things, too. For instance, try using Export-Csv with both version 3.0 and version 4.0. The new version is much cleaner because it’s using a custom class instead of adding properties to an existing .NET class.

Obviously this is still very early and is missing a ton of functionality: there are no modification commands, DSC, or effective access (which was another one of my favorite 3.0 features). Anything you see is subject to change (I can guarantee that the backing enumeration for the -Sections parameter on Get-SecurityDescriptor is going to have some changes, and the -Audit switch will somehow make a return to that command, too).  And the source code isn’t posted yet (you can decompile it, though). All of that is coming. The effective access stuff is pretty much the only part I haven’t started working on in C# yet, but all of the hard work was done almost a year ago when working on version 3.0. I can’t wait to see the speed improvements in that area.

In the meantime, please try this out and let me know what you think. If you find any bugs, or if you have any suggestions for ways to make it better, please let me know. You can post a comment here, on the Q&A page of the module’s repository page, or send me an email at magicrohn -at- outlook.com

Over the summer, the PowerShell Access Control module got some DSC resources to help manage security descriptors for for some of the supported object types. I’ve tested them a little bit, but I haven’t had enough time to really make sure they work as well as I’d like. Also, they’re still missing some functionality, and there are still some design decisions that haven’t been finalized. When I saw that the PowerShell Summit’s DSC Hackathon has a scenario for creating a resource that handles file and folder ACLs, I thought this would be a good time to show what’s currently in the module. I’m hoping that other people will test the resources and help me figure out what’s missing or what needs to be changed (I already know that the code needs to be cleaned up and the Get-TargetResource functions need some work).

If you download the latest version from the repository, you’ll see that the module includes three resources: cAccessControlEntry, cSecurityDescriptorSddl, and cSecurityDescriptor. Each is described in a little more detail below.

NOTE: The types of securable objects that these work against is currently limited to Files, Folders, Registry Keys, WMI Namespaces, and Services. The only reason the other object types that the module supports won’t work is that I haven’t really documented the path format. I mention that a little bit below when describing each of the properties for the cAccessControlEntry resource. Look for more supported objects in a future release, especially Active Directory objects.


The first of the three resources provides the least amount of control over a security descriptor. cAccessControlEntry provides a way to check that a DACL contains (or doesn’t contain) certain access or that a SACL contains (or doesn’t contain) entries that will generate certain audits. Here are a few scenarios that you can use it for:

  • Make sure Users group has Modify rights to a folder, but not any of its sub folders and files
  • Make sure Users group doesn’t have Delete right to a file or folder
  • Make sure Users group is explicitly denied Delete right on a file or folder
  • Make sure Users will generate an audit when any failed access attempt is performed
  • Make sure Users have Start and Stop rights to a specific service

The resource has the following properties:

  • AceType (Required) – The type of ACE; options are AccessAllowed, AccessDenied, and SystemAudit
  • ObjectType (Required) – The type of the securable object. Currently limited to File, Directory, RegistryKey, Service, and WmiNamespace. The only difference between File and Directory is the default AppliesTo value (if you don’t specify AppliesTo, a File object will use Object and a Directory object will use Object, ChildContainers, ChildObjects)
  • Path (Required) – The path to the securable object. This is obvious for files, folders, and registry keys, but not necessarily for other object types. You can get the path to your securable object by using Get-SecurityDescriptor and copying the SdPath property.
  • Principal (Required) – User/group/etc that is being granted/denied access or audited.
  • AccessMask (Required unless Ensure is set to Absent) – An integer that specifies the access to grant/deny/audit.
  • Ensure (Optional) – Controls whether an ACE for the specified properties should be present or absent from the DACL/SACL.
  • AppliesTo (Optional) – This is only used when dealing with a container object (an object that can have children, like folders, registry keys, WMI namespaces). It allows you to control where the ACE will apply. If you don’t use it, the default is used, which may be different depending on the ObjectType.
  • OnlyApplyToThisContainer (Optional) – Used like AppliesTo. This sets the NoPropagateInherit propagation flag, which means that children of the object that Path points to will inherit the ACE described, but their children (the object’s grandchildren) will not.
  • Specific (Optional) – Makes sure that the ACE described by the supplied properties is exactly matched. For example, if you want to make sure Users have Read access, and they already have Modify, testing for the desired access would normally pass since Modify contains Read. If you supply a value of $true for this property, though, the test would fail since Modify is not the same as Read. If this was set to $true in the previous example, the Modify ACE would be removed and a new Read ACE would be added.
  • AuditSuccess and AuditFailure (Only valid when AceType is SystemAudit) – At least one of these properties must be set to $true when describing an audit ACE.

The resource will currently only check against explicitly defined ACE entries. That means that inherited entries are completely ignored. If you’re ensuring access is granted or denied, that shouldn’t be a problem, but it could be a problem if you want to make sure access isn’t granted (Ensure = Absent). Let me demonstrate with a few examples:

Example 1: Make sure Users group has Modify rights to c:\powershell\dsc\test folder and its subfolders (but not files)

First, lets look at the DACL before making any changes:


Notice that Users already has Modify rights, but they’re being inherited from the parent folder. If we run the following DSC configuration, a new explicit ACE will be added since the DSC resource ignores inherited ACEs:

configuration DscAceTest {
        [string[]] $ComputerName = "localhost"

    Import-DscResource -Module PowerShellAccessControl

    cAccessControlEntry UsersModifyFolder {
        AceType = "AccessAllowed"
        ObjectType = "Directory"
        Path = "C:\powershell\dsc\test"
        Principal = "Users"
        AccessMask = [System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemRights]::Modify
        AppliesTo = "Object, ChildContainers"  # Apply to the folder and subfolders only


If you were to change the cAccessControlEntry node shown above to include Ensure = ‘Absent’, the DACL would go back to what it looked like in the first screenshot. The inherited ACE would still be there, though, and the LCM would tell you that the configuration was successfully applied (and Test-DscConfiguration would return $true).

Example 2: Make sure Users don’t have Delete rights on the folder itself (but don’t worry about sub folders or files)

For this example, we’ll actually pick up where the last one left off, so see the last screenshot. Users have an ACE that is not inherited that grants Modify rights to the folder and subfolders (Object and ChildContainers). Lets assume that we didn’t set that up with DSC (that just so happens to be what the folder’s DACL currently looks like), and we just want to make sure that Users can’t delete the folder. To do that, you could run the following configuration:

configuration DscAceTest {
        [string[]] $ComputerName = "localhost"

    Import-DscResource -Module PowerShellAccessControl

    cAccessControlEntry UsersCantDeleteFolder {
        AceType = "AccessAllowed"
        ObjectType = "Directory"
        Path = "C:\powershell\dsc\test"
        Principal = "Users"
        AccessMask = [System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemRights]::Delete
        AppliesTo = "Object"  # Only apply to the folder
        Ensure = "Absent"     # Make sure permission isn't granted

And you’d get a DACL that looks like this:dsc_cAccessControlEntry_5

What happened there? When the configuration was run, the LCM saw that it needed to make some changes because Users had Delete permission to the folder object. When the configuration was applied, only Delete permissions were removed from the folder itself, so the single ACE needed to be split into two ACEs: one that gives Modify minus Delete to the folder and subfolders, and one that gives Delete to just the subfolders. In the end, the LCM did exactly what it was asked, which was ensure that Delete permission wasn’t granted to the folder itself.

Remember that there is still an inherited ACE that grants that permission to the Users group. To get around this, you’ll need to use the cSecurityDescriptorSddl or cSecurityDescriptor resources instead since they have the ability to control DACL and SACL inheritance.


This one is really simple to explain, but, since it uses SDDL, its kind of tough to use. You get to control a lot more with this resource than with cAccessControlEntry because this lets you control the entire security descriptor. There are only three properties, and they are all required:

  • Path – This is the same as the Path property for cAccessControlEntry above.
  • ObjectType – This is the same as the ObjectType property for cAccessControlEntry above.
  • Sddl – This is a string representation of the security descriptor. The neat thing about this is that you can include any combination of the four security descriptor sections: Owner, Group, DACL, or SACL. Any section that is missing from the SDDL string shouldn’t be tested or touched.

To use it, I recommend configuring an object the way you want it, and running the following to get the SDDL string:

# This is if you want the entire SD:
(Get-SecurityDescriptor C:\powershell\dsc\DscAceTest).Sddl

# If you only want certain sections, do this (the latest builds of the PAC
# module have this method exposed to the SD object itself, so this format 
# won't work in a future version without a slight modification)
# Valid arguments for the GetSddlForm() method are All, Owner, Group, Access,
# and Audit:
$SD = Get-SecurityDescriptor C:\powershell\dsc\DscAceTest
$SD.SecurityDescriptor.GetSddlForm("Owner, Access")

Let’s continue from the example above. We can’t control the ACEs that are being inherited (unless we modify the parent object), but we can tell the folder to disable DACL inheritance. The following configuration contains an SDDL string that only modifies the DACL (so the Owner, Group, and SACL aren’t touched), disables DACL inheritance, and specifies each of the ACEs that were being inherited as explicit entries instead:

configuration DscDaclTest {
        [string[]] $ComputerName = "localhost"

    Import-DscResource -Module PowerShellAccessControl

    cSecurityDescriptorSddl TestDacl {
        ObjectType = "Directory"
        Path = "C:\powershell\dsc\test"
        Sddl = "D:PAI(A;OICIIO;SDGXGWGR;;;AU)(A;;0x1301bf;;;AU)(A;OICI;FA;;;SY)(A;OICI;FA;;;BA)(A;CI;0x1201bf;;;BU)(A;CIIO;SD;;;BU)"

After running that, the folder’s DACL looked like this for me:


Using that resource means that you can force that DACL to look like it does above every single time the DSC configuration is run. cAccessControlEntry only cared about the specific ACE properties supplied to it, and it didn’t care about the rest of the ACL. This resource, when the DACL or SACL sections are specified, controls the whole ACL. That’s pretty powerful, but it’s really, really hard to read. Thankfully, the last resource fixes the readability part (I hope).


This resource does the exact same thing as cSecurityDescriptorSddl, except it doesn’t use SDDL. It has the following properties:

  • Path – This is the same as the Path property for cAccessControlEntry above.
  • ObjectType – This is the same as the ObjectType property for cAccessControlEntry above.
  • Owner – A string specifying who/what the owner should be set to
  • Group – A string specifying who/what the group should be set to
  • Access – A CSV that specifies the explicit DACL ACEs that should be present. If the explicit ACEs don’t match this list, all explicit ACEs will be removed, and ACEs specified here will be applied. The headers are parameter names that would be passed to the New-AccessControlEntry function.
  • AccessInheritance – Controls DACL inheritance. Valid values are Enabled and Disabled.
  • Audit – A CSV that specifies the explicit SACL ACEs that should be present. If the explicit ACEs don’t match this list, all explicit ACEs will be removed, and ACEs specified here will be applied. The headers are parameter names that would be passed to the New-AccessControlEntry function.
  • AuditInheritance – Controls SACL inheritance. Valid values are Enabled and Disabled.

The following configuration does the same thing as the cSecurityDescriptorSddl example above:

configuration DscDaclTest {
        [string[]] $ComputerName = "localhost"

    Import-DscResource -Module PowerShellAccessControl

        cSecurityDescriptor TestFolderSdDacl {
            Path = "c:\powershell\dsc\test"
            ObjectType = "Directory"
            AccessInheritance = "Disabled"
            Access = @"
                AccessAllowed,Authenticated Users,"Modify,Synchronize"

If you download the module, there are more examples of each of the resources in the \examples\dsc\ folder. Please grab the latest version and give these resources a try. If you have any questions, suggestions, or criticisms, please leave a comment below and let me know. Thanks!

I’ve had a beta version of the PAC module available on Script Center repository for quite a while now. It adds several new features, including the following:

  • Active Directory objects are supported
  • Desired State Configurations (DSC) resources available to automate access control settings (see about_PowerShellAccessControl_DscResources)
  • Supports filenames longer than 260 characters (PSv3 or higher)
  • Shows inheritance source for file, folder, registry key, and Active Directory objects (PSv3 or higher)

The documentation isn’t finished, and there are still a few bugs that I’m aware of that need to be fixed. I’ve been using it in its current form for a while, though, so I feel that it’s pretty stable. Give it a shot and let me know if you have any issues and/or questions (you can post here or on the Q&A section on the repository page.

The biggest problem I have with it is the speed (especially when working with AD objects). I’ve been playing around with moving some of it to C#, and I’ve noticed an amazing speed improvement. At some point in the future, the module will have at least some C#. I may one day make the entire module a compiled module (the source code will always be included).

Other features that will come in the future:

  • Central Access Policies (view/set assigned CAPs for files and folders and view central access rules associated with the CAP)
  • Conditional/Callback ACEs will show conditions (very similar to ACL Editor)
  • File/folder dynamic access control tags will be viewable (and one day settable)
  • Get-EffectiveAccess will show limiting CARs when a CAP is assigned (right now, CAPs should be taken into account, but it won’t show which CAR is limiting access)
  • Get-EffectiveAccess will allow you to add group/device claims