Archive for December, 2013

I saw a post yesterday on the Scripting Guys forum that pointed me to a function that I absolutely fell in love with. I ended up spending a few hours messing around, and I came up with something I hope met the original poster’s requirements.

The poster was looking for a way to find out if ‘Strict Mode’ is being used, and if it is, what version is being enforced. There is no built-in cmdlet to do this. Someone else was able to point him to a function that did what he was looking for, but that function’s author said that it would only work for the global scope. In all honesty, that should be enough to cover virtually any use case you have for the function, but I was curious as to whether or not I could get the current scope’s setting, which could be different than the global scope’s.

The original Get-StrictMode function I found was using a function the author had picked up from PoshCode: Get-Field. It’s a function that gets public and private fields from objects passed to it–information that isn’t generally available. This is the function that I fell in love with.

I modified the Get-Field function somewhat, and you can find my version here.

Using the original Get-StrictMode as a starting point, I came up with my own version that can be found here.

And here’s a ridiculous example that shows that it works with multiple scopes:

function StrictModeTest {
    param([int] $Recurse = 0)

    Write-Verbose "Effective strict mode: $(Get-StrictMode)"

    switch (Get-Random -Minimum -1 -Maximum ($PSVersionTable.PSVersion.Major + 1)) {
        { $_ -gt -1 } { Write-Verbose "Setting strict mode to $_" }

        # This sets strict mode to 0.0
        0 { Set-StrictMode -Off }
        # Set strict mode to random version:
        { $_ -gt 0 } { Set-StrictMode -Version $_ }
    Write-Verbose "New effective strict mode: $(Get-StrictMode)"

    if ($Recurse -le 0) { 
        Get-StrictMode -ShowAllScopes 
    else { 
        if ($VerbosePreference -eq "Continue") {
            Get-StrictMode -ShowAllScopes
        StrictModeTest -Recurse (--$Recurse) 

Make sure that you’ve dot-sourced the Get-StrictMode function from the repository and run the StrictModeTest function definition above, then run the following command:

PS> StrictModeTest -Recurse 4

StrictModeVersion Scope
----------------- -----
2.0                   0
1.0                   1
3.0                   2
0.0                   3
2.0                   5

What the test function is doing is setting a random strict mode, then calling itself again. If you pass -Recurse the number 4, it will call itself 4 times, which means 5 scopes total (4 from the function calls, and 1 for the global scope). The last time the function calls itself, it calls Get-StrictMode with the -ShowAllScopes switch. If -Verbose is passed, it will call Get-StrictMode each time the function is called.

In my sample output, 5 is the global scope. Strict mode was set at 2.0 in that scope. Scope 4 didn’t have Set-StrictMode called, so it would inherit 2.0 from its parent scope. Scope 3 called ‘Set-StrictMode -Off’, so strict mode would not be enforced in that scope.

I don’t know that I’ll ever use Get-StrictMode, but I learned a ton playing around with it. Even if you don’t use it, you might take a look at it as an example of how to use Get-Field, which is one of my new favorite functions. I really think Get-Field has a ton of uses.

There’s still some work that can be done with both functions, so feel free to modify them and share your results.

In my previous post, I briefly mentioned that the VersionInfo.FileVersion property of a file object might not be accurate. I didn’t really give any examples to back that up, though. I’d like to show you how you can see this issue for yourself. First, run this so you can follow along in the examples:

$Culture = (Get-Culture).Name
$Files = dir C:\Windows\system32 -File | select Name, @{
        N="FileVersionString"; E={
            $String = $_.VersionInfo.FileVersion
            if ($String -match "(\d+\s*(\.|,)\s*){1,3}\d+") {
                $String = $Matches[0] -replace ",", "."
                $String = $String -replace "\s*", ""
                $String = ([version] $String).ToString()
        }}, @{
            "{0}.{1}.{2}.{3}" -f $_.VersionInfo.FileMajorPart, 
        }, @{
            Test-Path ("{0}\{1}\{2}.mui" -f $_.PSParentPath, $Culture, $_.Name)

This is a simple set of commands that gets all of the files from the system32 directory. For each file, it tries to get the file version information. The property named ‘FileVersionString’ takes the VersionInfo.FileVersion and does the following to it:
1. It removes any text as long as the string starts with something that resembles a version (spaces are allowed between the sections, and a comma or a decimal point can be used to separate the parts)
2. It replaces any commas with decimal points
3. It removes any spaces that might be left
4. It temporarily casts it to a [version] type, then back to a string. The idea here is to get rid of extra leading zeros, e.g., 9.00.7600.45000 becomes 9.0.7600.45000

The ‘FileVersion’ property is a string computed the way that I think is the best way to get a file version: combining the FileMajorPart, FileMinorPart, FileBuildPart, and FilePrivatePart numbers. The ‘MUIExists’ property is a Boolean property that tells you whether or not the file in question has a MUI resource file associated with it. The logic for this is very simple, and there may be some errors. Notice that the first line is getting the culture of the system (‘en-US’ on my computer).

Now lets look at the results:

# Show how many files were in folder:
PS> $Files.Count

# Show how many files in folder have a VersionInfo.FileVersion string:
PS> ($Files | where { $_.FileVersionString }).Count

# Get the files that have version strings that don't match the version numbers:
PS> $FilesWithNonMatchingVersions = $Files | 
    where { $_.FileVersionString -and $_.FileVersionString -ne $_.FileVersion }

# Show how many files have version information mismatches:
PS> $FilesWithNonMatchingVersions.Count

# Show how many files that have conflicting version information that have MUI 
# resources, and how many don't:
PS> $FilesWithNonMatchingVersions | group MUIExists -NoElement

Count Name                     
----- ----                     
  162 True                     
   14 False                    

There are 3345 files in the system32 directory on the machine I ran that on. Out of those, 2944 have FileVersion strings. Out of those, 176 have a mismatch between the VersionInfo.FileVersion property and the file version that was computed by combining the four version parts.

Out of those 176, 162 have a MUI resource file, and 14 don’t. The 14 that don’t are files where the version strings simply don’t match. The version that Explorer would show for those files is the version computed using the four version parts.

176 files in the system32 directory are showing the VersionInfo.FileVersion property from a different file than you think they are (it’s actually coming from the file’s MUI resource). That’s about 5.5% of the files that have a version in the system32 directory (on a Windows 7 system that I ran this on, it was 478 out of 2480, or just over 19%).

If you run these commands, you’ll get an example of a single random file (NOTE: this will copy a file into your temp directory):

$RandomFileName = $FilesWithNonMatchingVersions | ? { $_.MUIExists } | 
    Get-Random | select -exp Name
$SourceFile = "c:\windows\system32\$RandomFileName"
$MuiFile = "c:\windows\system32\$Culture\$RandomFileName.mui"
$DestFile = "$env:temp\$RandomFileName"
Copy-Item $SourceFile $DestFile
Get-Item $SourceFile, $MuiFile, $DestFile | select -exp VersionInfo | 
    fl FileName, FileVersion, FileM*Part, FileBuildPart, FilePrivatePart

And here are the results on the machine I used:

FileName        : C:\windows\system32\WMPhoto.dll
FileVersion     : 6.3.9600.16384 (winblue_rtm.130821-1623)
FileMajorPart   : 6
FileMinorPart   : 3
FileBuildPart   : 9600
FilePrivatePart : 16474

FileName        : C:\windows\system32\en-US\WMPhoto.dll.mui
FileVersion     : 6.3.9600.16384 (winblue_rtm.130821-1623)
FileMajorPart   : 6
FileMinorPart   : 3
FileBuildPart   : 9600
FilePrivatePart : 16384

FileName        : C:\Users\me\AppData\Local\Temp\WMPhoto.dll
FileVersion     : 6.3.9600.16474 (winblue_gdr.131122-1506)
FileMajorPart   : 6
FileMinorPart   : 3
FileBuildPart   : 9600
FilePrivatePart : 16474

Notice how on the first object the FileVersion doesn’t match the version if you combine the four numeric parts? Also, did you notice how the third object is showing matching versions? The binary file actually contains the proper information, but the API call that gets the file information is checking to see if there is MUI file, and if there is, it uses the FileVersion from the MUI file instead of the file you asked for. The file information from the first and third objects are from the exact same file, just in different directories. When the file is in the system32 directory, it has a MUI file associated with it. When it’s moved to the temp folder, it doesn’t. The four numeric file version parts are actually pulled from the real file whether or not there is a MUI file associated with it.

So, if you want accurate file versions (as accurate as Explorer will show you), I suggest using the four file version parts from the VersionInfo object: FileMajorPart, FileMinorPart, FileBuildPart, FilePrivatePart.

An example of doing that can be found here.

I used to think that getting a file version in PowerShell was a fairly simple process:

PS> (Get-Item c:\windows\system32\mshtml.dll).VersionInfo.FileVersion
11.00.9600.16410 (winblue_gdr.130923-1706)

There are two issues with that method, though:
1. That property can contain text along with the version
2. It turns out that in Windows Vista and higher, that property might not be coming from the file you think it is.

Issue #1 just means that the property is only good if you’re visually checking the version, or if no comparisons with other versions are necessary.

Issue #2 is the big one for me. What appears to be going on is that the FileVersion string is considered a non-fixed part of the version information, and it is pulled from the MUI resource file (if one exists). This file contains the language specific settings, and it looks like it only gets updated when the major or minor file version of associated file changes. If the private file version changes, it doesn’t look like the MUI file is changed.

That means that the FileVersion property has the potential to give you information that isn’t completely up to date. Critical patches from MS usually just update vulnerable code, so there’s no need to change language-specific things in the MUI file.

So, how can you get accurate file version information? Well, you can combine other properties from the VersionInfo object to create an accurate file version:

PS> $VersionInfo = (Get-Item C:\Windows\System32\mshtml.dll).VersionInfo
PS> $FileVersion = ("{0}.{1}.{2}.{3}" -f $VersionInfo.FileMajorPart, 
PS> $FileVersion

That’s still pretty simple, but it takes a lot more typing. Because of that extra typing, though, your version is now in a known format, i.e., ‘x.x.x.x’. And, if you cast it to a [version] type, you can compare versions as if they were numbers:

PS> [version] $FileVersion -gt "11.0.9600.16410"

There is one thing to note here:
Version comparisons between different formats, e.g., 1.2.3 and, might not return what you’re expecting. See the remarks section here. Here are some examples of what I’m talking about:

# Gotcha #1
PS> [version] "1.2.3" -eq [version] ""

# Gotcha #2
PS> [version] "1.2.3" -lt [version] ""

# Example of different formats working as you would expect
PS> [version] "1.2.3" -gt [version] ""

# Another example of different formats working
PS> [version] "1.3" -gt [version] ""

As long as you keep your version formats the same, though, the comparison operators will work exactly as you would expect them to. I recommend keeping them in the ‘x.x.x.x’ format.

Something else about the comparisons: In the examples, casting the second string to a [version] isn’t actually necessary. When a comparison operation occurs in PowerShell, the type of the first object is used for the comparisons. That means that the second string in the examples is automatically converted to a [version], even if you don’t tell PowerShell to do it. If you run this command, you’ll get an error:

PS> [version] "" -gt "potato"
Could not compare "" to "potato". Error: "Cannot convert value "potato" to type "System.Version". Error: "Version string portion was too short or too long.""
At line:1 char:1
+ [version] "" -gt "potato"
+ ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    + CategoryInfo          : InvalidOperation: (:) [], RuntimeException
    + FullyQualifiedErrorId : ComparisonFailure

I just put a string there, but PowerShell tried to make it a [version] object. It doesn’t hurt to always explicitly use the type (you could even argue that it’s a best practice), but it’s not necessary if you’re trying to cut down on the characters you have to type. Just make sure that the first object is actually a [version] type.

Like I said before, the biggest drawback to combining the four File*Part properties is how much typing it requires. So, I decided to make PowerShell always get the file version for me, and automatically add it to a file object:

# PowerShell must be at least v3 to do this:
Update-TypeData -TypeName System.IO.FileInfo -MemberType ScriptProperty -MemberName PSFileVersion -Value {
    if ($this.VersionInfo.FileVersion) {
        [version] ("{0}.{1}.{2}.{3}" -f $this.VersionInfo.FileMajorPart, 

That method requires version 3.0. If you have 2.0, you should be able to get it to work, though. The difference is that you have to save an XML file, and then use the Update-TypeData cmdlet to read that file. Here’s the XML file:

                    if ($this.VersionInfo.FileVersion) {
                        [version] ("{0}.{1}.{2}.{3}" -f $this.VersionInfo.FileMajorPart, 

And here’s the command:

# Replace $PathToXmlFile with proper path:
Update-TypeData -AppendPath $PathToXmlFile

This works on my machine when forcing PowerShell to run version 2, but I haven’t tested it on a machine that truly has PowerShell v2 installed.

Now, when you use Get-Item, Get-ChildItem, or anything that returns a [System.IO.FileInfo] object, the object will have a PSFileVersion property. Here are some examples of this functionality:

# Use Get-ChildItem to display file names and versions:
PS> dir C:\Windows\system32 -Filter msh*.dll | ? psfileversion | select name, psfileversion

Name          PSFileVersion  
----          -------------  
mshtml.dll    11.0.9600.16476
MshtmlDac.dll 11.0.9600.16384
mshtmled.dll  11.0.9600.16384
mshtmler.dll  11.0.9600.16384

# Same as before, but this shows the accurate System.Version version and the inaccurate VersionInfo.FileVersion:
PS> dir C:\Windows\system32 -Filter msh*.dll | ? psfileversion | select name, psfileversion, @{N="FileVersionString";E={$_.VersionInfo.FileVersion}}

Name          PSFileVersion   FileVersionString                         
----          -------------   -----------------                         
mshtml.dll    11.0.9600.16476 11.00.9600.16410 (winblue_gdr.130923-1706)
MshtmlDac.dll 11.0.9600.16384 11.00.9600.16384 (winblue_rtm.130821-1623)
mshtmled.dll  11.0.9600.16384 11.00.9600.16384 (winblue_rtm.130821-1623)
mshtmler.dll  11.0.9600.16384 11.00.9600.16384 (winblue_rtm.130821-1623)

# Comparisons:
PS> (Get-Item C:\Windows\System32\mshtml.dll).PSFileVersion -gt "11.0.9600.16410"
PS> (Get-Item C:\Windows\System32\mshtml.dll).PSFileVersion -lt "11.0.9600.16410"

# List all of the files with versions under system32:
dir C:\Windows\System32 | ? psfileversion | select name, psfileversion | Out-GridView

You can find this on the Script Repository here.

Today I want to go over one of the functions in the module that I published to the Script Center: Get-AccessControlEntry.

This function is meant to be used for auditing of access control entries (ACEs) in access control lists (ACLs). Right now, it is geared towards discretionary ACLs (DACLs), or the ACLs that control access to objects. It will work with system ACLs (SACLs), or the ACLs that control auditing of objects, in objects returned from Get-Acl with the -Audit switch, but the ACEs returned have at least one different property name from an ACE in a DACL, so the default formatting of the results doesn’t work properly. For now, I suggest just using it to audit DACLs. All of the other functions that deal with ACLs and ACEs in the module are currently geared towards DACLs, but I plan to fix that in a future release if anyone besides myself shows interest. When/if that happens, I’ll have hopefully come up with a solution that allows this function to better work with SACLs.

So, how does it work? The short answer is that it expands the ACE objects found in the ACLs of a security descriptor (SD) object, and it adds the path of the original object to each ACE. It really becomes useful when you feed it more than one object, and you get all of the ACEs expanded. I’ll go over some examples of that after covering the command syntax.

Let’s see how to use it:

PS> Get-Command Get-AccessControlEntry -Syntax

Get-AccessControlEntry [-Path ] [-AclType ] [-Filter ] [-Recurse] 
[-AceInherited] [-AceNotInherited] []

Get-AccessControlEntry [-AclObject ] [-AclType ] [-Filter ] [-AceInherited] 
[-AceNotInherited] []

So, there are two ways to call the function: you can pass it a path, or you can directly pass it an SD object. Let’s go over each of the parameters unique to each ParameterSet, then we’ll cover the common parameters that you can use for either type of call.

  • ByPath Parameters:
    • Path – A path to an object that will work with Get-Acl. Anything passed to this parameter is simply passed to Get-ChildItem, and Get-Acl is called on the object(s) returned.
    • Recurse – Passes the -Recurse switch to Get-ChildItem for the path provided in the -Path parameter.
  • ByAclObject Parameters:
    • AclObject – A security descriptor object. The ACEs will be extracted from properties named in the -AclType parameter (if the -AclType parameter isn’t specified, the default values are used)
  • Common Parameters:
    • AclType – This is a list of properties to attempt to expand from the AclObjects. By default, the list contains the following strings:
      • Access – The property on a security descriptor returned from Get-Acl that contains the DACL
      • Audit – The property on a security descriptor returned from Get-Acl that contains the SACL
      • DiscretionaryAcl – The property on a security descriptor object returned from New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor that contains the DACL
      • SystemAcl – The property on a security descriptor object returned from New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor that contains the SACL
    • Filter – A script block that filters the ACEs. The script block must evaluate to true in order for the ACE to be returned. You can use $_ to refer to the ACE object.
    • AceInherited and AceNotInherited – These switches add on to the script block defined in the -Filter parameter to control which ACEs are displayed. They either show only ACEs that are inherited or only ACEs that aren’t inherited.

Here is a very brief demo script. Run a few of these commands to see a sampling of what you can do with the function:

# Show the ACEs on the Windows folder (format results as a table):
Get-Acl C:\Windows | Get-AccessControlEntry | ft

# Same thing, but pipe the results to Out-GridView so you can sort 
# them as you please:
Get-Acl C:\Windows | Get-AccessControlEntry | Out-GridView

# Get the ACEs for any IdentityReferences that have the word 'Users' 
# in them:
Get-Acl C:\Windows | Get-AccessControlEntry -Filter { 
    $_.IdentityReference -match "Users" 

# Files under the Windows folder, only showing inherited
# ACEs (different display this time):
dir C:\Windows -File | 
    % { Get-Acl $_.PsPath } | 
    Get-AccessControlEntry -AceInherited |
    Sort-Object Path, AccessControlType, IdentityReference |
    Format-Table -GroupBy Path -Property AccessControlType, IdentityReference, FileSystemRights

# If you change -AceInherited above to -AceNotInherited, you'll get a 
# listing of all ACEs that aren't inherited.

# View the restriction policy for component access ACEs:
New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -BinarySD (gp HKLM:\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Ole).MachineAccessRestriction |
    Get-AccessControlEntry |

<# View the namespace security on the root/cimv2 WMI namespace:
   NOTE: This must be run from an elevated prompt. Also, there is
         a bug in the WMI methods that are used to convert the 
         Win32SD to SDDL or binary forms that causes the
         inheritance flags to not show properly. That's a pretty
         big issue, and I plan to take that into account if anyone
         uses the module. #>
Get-CimInstance __SystemSecurity | 
    Get-Win32SecurityDescriptor -Sddl | 
    New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor | 
    Get-AccessControlEntry |

# Use this to get a list of WMI classes that you can use 
# Get-Win32SecurityDescriptor against:
Get-CimClass -MethodName GetSecurityDescriptor

# Get WSMan ACEs:
dir WSMan:\localhost -Recurse | 
    Where Name -eq Sddl | 
    ForEach-Object { 
        New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -Sddl $_.Value -Path $_.PsPath -AccessMaskEnumeration ([PowerShellAccessControl.WsManAccessRights])
    } |
    Get-AccessControlEntry |
    Sort-Object Path |
    Format-Table -GroupBy Path -AutoSize

Try it out, and let me know what you do or don’t like about it.