Posts Tagged ‘AccessControl’

The other day I needed a way to test DACL and SACL entries for some files, registry keys, and Active Directory objects. I needed a way to make sure there wasn’t any extra access being granted to users, to make sure certain principals weren’t granted any access at all, and to be able to ensure that certain access was audited.

If you’ve ever tried to validate that sort of thing, I’m sure you would agree that to do it right is no easy task. Access control in Windows is an incredibly flexible, but complicated, topic.

For my first stab at it, I turned to Get-PacAccessControlEntry, but quickly found the boilerplate code I was copy/pasting for the different checks was huge. So I of course made a simple function to try to reduce the duplicate code. This ended up being terrible because I kept having to tweak the function, and even when it worked how I wanted it to, crafting the inputs was way too ugly, since creating ACE objects requires a lot of text (even if you use New-PacAccessControlEntry), and that makes it hard to read.

Then it hit me: the .NET access control methods are perfect for this scenario. When you call Get-Acl, you get back a very versatile in-memory representation of a security descriptor (SD). The object has a few different methods that allow you to add or remove access or audit rights. Notice I said rights, and not entries. While the methods to modify access control take access control entries (ACEs) as input, they don’t actually take those ACEs and append or remove them from the access control lists (ACLs) on the SD (well, the methods that end with ‘Specific’ do actually just add/remove entries, but the AddAccessRule, AddAuditRule, RemoveAccessRule, RemoveAuditRule don’t). They actually look at the input ACE, then, to steal a Star Trek and DSC term, “make it so”.

This is AMAZING, because, as I said, access control is complicated. ACEs contain all of this information:

  • Principal
  • AccessMask
  • Flags
    • AceType (Allow/Deny access or Audit)
    • Inheritance flags
    • Propagation flags
  • (Optional) Active Directory object information
    • Object ACE type GUID
    • Inherited object ACE type GUID
  • Callback information (The .NET methods don’t actually handle this)

I promise you don’t want to deal with that stuff. Here’s some output from a PS session that hopefully demos what I’m talking about when I say that the methods just take your ACE and make it so:

# Start with a blank SD:
PS C:\> $SD = [System.Security.AccessControl.DirectorySecurity]::new()
PS C:\> $SD.SetSecurityDescriptorSddlForm('D:')

# Add an ACE granting Users Modify rights:
PS C:\> $Ace = [System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemAccessRule]::new('Users', 'Modify', 'ContainerInherit, ObjectInherit', 'None', 'Allow')
PS C:\> $SD.AddAccessRule($Ace)
PS C:\> $SD | Get-PacAccessControlEntry

    Path       :  (Coerced from .NET DirectorySecurity object)
    Owner      : 
    Inheritance: DACL Inheritance Enabled

AceType Principal AccessMask          AppliesTo
------- --------- ----------          ---------
Allow   Users     Modify, Synchronize  O CC CO  

# Notice that if we add it multiple times, there's no effect on the DACL
PS C:\> $SD.AddAccessRule($Ace)
PS C:\> $SD.AddAccessRule($Ace)
PS C:\> $SD | Get-PacAccessControlEntry

    Path       :  (Coerced from .NET DirectorySecurity object)
    Owner      : 
    Inheritance: DACL Inheritance Enabled

AceType Principal AccessMask          AppliesTo
------- --------- ----------          ---------
Allow   Users     Modify, Synchronize  O CC CO  

# That applies to a folder, its subfolders, and its subfiles. What if we wanted 
# to remove the ability to delete the folder and subfolders?
PS C:\> $Ace = [System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemAccessRule]::new('Users', 'Delete', 'ContainerInherit', 'None', 'Allow')
PS C:\> $SD.RemoveAccessRule($Ace)

PS C:\> $SD | Get-PacAccessControlEntry

    Path       :  (Coerced from .NET DirectorySecurity object)
    Owner      : 
    Inheritance: DACL Inheritance Enabled

AceType Principal AccessMask                         AppliesTo
------- --------- ----------                         ---------
Allow   Users     Write, ReadAndExecute, Synchronize  O CC CO  
Allow   Users     Delete                                   CO  

Removing access took us from one ACE to two! If you look, you’ll see that there’s one ACE granting Write, ReadAndExecute, and Synchronize to the folder, subfolders, and files, and another granting Delete just to files. It removed the access I wanted, and it took all of the ACE components into account for me.

How does this help with the original problem of validating SDs? I mentioned three scenarios above. Here they are again, and with a way to use the .NET SD concept to handle each one.

  • Required Access: For each required ACE, do this:
    1. Remember the SDDL representation of the SD
    2. Add the ACE’s access to the SD
    3. Check the SDDL against the remembered value. If there’s no change, you know that the ACE was already in the SD. If there is a change, the test failed. If you want to know all ACEs that fail, you could reset the SD with your starting SDDL and repeat.NOTE: It turns out this doesn’t work well when the Inheritance/Propagation flags aren’t the default. The SD’s structure can change sometimes, even keeping the same effective access. Not to worry, though: we’ll be able to fix it so these false negatives don’t happen.
  • Disallowed Access (blacklist): I originally wanted to do something similar to -RequiredAccess, but it ended up being more trouble than it was worth. Instead, I made a helper function to do this for me, and it will eventually be used to fix the problem mentioned above with -RequiredAccess.
  • Allowed Access (whitelist): You can take the list of allowed ACEs and remove each one from the SD representation. If the DACL/SACL is empty after doing that, then you know that only access defined in your allowed ACEs list was specified, so the SD passed the test. This has the added benefit of immediately telling you the access that wasn’t allowed (just look at the ACEs in the DACL/SACL.
    You’d have to make a decision on how to treat Deny ACEs (I’m leaning to ignoring them by default)

I’m skipping lots and lots of details there, like figuring out if the ACEs are for the DACL or SACL, and what to do with Deny DACL ACEs. You also have to fix the fact that inherited ACEs won’t get removed. But it’s a start ūüôā

I took those ideas, and came up with TestAcl, which is a module that exports one command: Test-Acl. This test module doesn’t depend on the PAC module, even though I plan on putting every bit of this functionality into the module.

One of the coolest things about it is that you provide the rules in string form. The README on the project page covers the syntax, but here are a few examples:

# Look at the DACL for C:\Windows
PS C:\> Get-PacAccessControlEntry C:\Windows

    Path       : C:\Windows
    Owner      : NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller
    Inheritance: DACL Inheritance Disabled

AceType Principal                           AccessMask                  AppliesTo
------- ---------                           ----------                  ---------
Allow   CREATOR OWNER                       FullControl                   CC CO  
Allow   SYSTEM                              FullControl                   CC CO  
Allow   SYSTEM                              Modify, Synchronize         O        
Allow   Administrators                      FullControl                   CC CO  
Allow   Administrators                      Modify, Synchronize         O        
Allow   Users                               ReadAndExecute, Synchronize O CC CO  
Allow   NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller         FullControl                 O CC     
Allow   ALL APPLICATION PACKAGES            ReadAndExecute, Synchronize O CC CO  

# Notice the comma separated principals and the wildcards
PS C:\> Test-Acl C:\Windows -AllowedAccess '
    Allow "CREATOR OWNER", SYSTEM, Administrators, "NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller" FullControl
    Allow * ReadAndExecute
' -DisallowedAccess '
    Allow Everyone FullControl


# Take out TrustedInstaller and see what happens:
PS C:\> $Results = Test-Acl C:\Windows -AllowedAccess '
    Allow "CREATOR OWNER", SYSTEM, Administrators FullControl
    Allow * ReadAndExecute
' -DisallowedAccess '
    Allow Everyone FullControl
' -Detailed

PS C:\> $Results.Result

# Ignore the Format-List properties. A future update will handle string representation.
PS C:\> $Results.ExtraAces | fl AceType, @{N='Principal'; E={$_.SecurityIdentifier.Translate([System.Security.Principal.NTAccount])}}, @{N='Rights'; E={$_.AccessMask -as [System.Security.AccessControl.FileSystemRights]}}

AceType   : AccessAllowed
Principal : NT SERVICE\TrustedInstaller
Rights    : DeleteSubdirectoriesAndFiles, Write, Delete, ChangePermissions, TakeOwnership

# Having to specify O, CC for registry keys is a bug that will be fixed later
PS C:\> Test-Acl HKCU:\SOFTWARE\Subkey -RequiredAccess '
    Audit F Everyone RegistryRights: FullControl O, CC


You can even provide AD object and inherited object GUIDs for object ACEs (see the README on GitHub). It shouldn’t be too hard to extend the parser to make it so you can do something like this, too:
Allow SELF ActiveDirectoryRights: WriteProperty (Public-Information) O, CC (user)

That way you wouldn’t have to look the GUIDs up. For now, though, you can just add the comma separated GUIDs at the end of the string if you need to work with AD object ACEs.

It’s still definitely a work in progress, but I’d love it if people could test it out and provide some feedback and/or contribute to it.

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:
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- 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-¬†

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


There’s a new version of my PowerShellAccessControl module available in the Script Center Repository. It’s got a lot of new stuff in it, so go check it out. I’m going to just show you some random commands to run (and I’ll post a screenshot or two).

The update brings the ability to audit/modify SACLs (object auditing). It also simplifies getting security descriptors for several objects, including services, printers, WMI namespaces, and more (even file/folder and registry entries). PowerShell v2 is also supported (let me know if you find anything that doesn’t work when using v2). It’s still lacking the functions I’ve been working on to actually save the security descriptors back out. Don’t worry, though, because those are coming. I’m also working on other ways for the module to get its hands on more security descriptors.

For now, though, I think it does a pretty good job of letting you audit your ACLs for almost anything you’d want to (and if it doesn’t directly support the object, you can still use New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor if you know the SDDL or binary form of the SD). You can also use New-AccessControlEntry to create file, folder, and registry ACEs to use with Get-Acl and Set-Acl. That by itself saves several lines of code.

Anyway, go download the module, then run through some of these demo scripts line by line:

Working with services:

# Must be run as admin b/c of GetSecurityDescriptor WMI method

# Get BITs service SD
$SD = Get-Service bits | Get-SecurityDescriptor

# Check out the default formatting

# And as a list:
$SD | fl

# Show ACEs (access and audit) for services that start with the letter 'B'
Get-Service b* | Get-AccessControlEntry

# Show auditing ACEs for services that start with the letter 'B'
Get-Service b* | Get-AccessControlEntry -AclType Audit

# Get BITs service SD (again)
$SD = Get-Service bits | Get-SecurityDescriptor

# Give users the ability to Start and Stop it:
$SD.AddAccessRule((New-AccessControlEntry -ServiceAccessRights Start, Stop -Principal Users))
# Audit that
$SD.AddAuditRule((New-AccessControlEntry -ServiceAccessRights Start, Stop -Principal Users -AuditSuccess))

# Look to make sure those entries are there:
$SD | fl

# Since there's no Set-SecurityDescriptor yet, do this if you want to save
# SD (you have to remove -WhatIf to make it permanent)
$Win32SD = $SD | ConvertTo-Win32SecurityDescriptor -ValueOnly  # Use -LegacyWmiObject if you're going to use WMI cmdlets
Get-CimInstance Win32_Service -Filter "Name='bits'" | Invoke-CimMethod -MethodName SetSecurityDescriptor -WhatIf -Arguments @{
    Descriptor = $Win32SD

Working with other objects:

# Printers
Get-WmiObject Win32_Printer | Get-SecurityDescriptor

# Printer access ACE:
$ACE = New-AccessControlEntry -PrinterRights ManageDocuments -Principal Users

# Logical share:
Get-CimInstance Win32_LogicalShareSecuritySetting | Get-SecurityDescriptor

# WSMan:
dir wsman: -Recurse | ? { $_.Name -eq "SDDL" } | Get-SecurityDescriptor

# Folder:
get-item c:\windows | Get-SecurityDescriptor
dir c:\windows -Directory | Get-AccessControlEntry -AceNotInherited
dir c:\windows -Directory | Get-AccessControlEntry -IdentityReference Administrators

# WMI namespace:
$SD = Get-CimInstance __SystemSecurity -Namespace root/cimv2 | Get-SecurityDescriptor

# Add an access ACE that also applies to all child namespaces:
$SD.AddAccessRule((New-AccessControlEntry -WmiNamespaceRights RemoteEnable -Principal Users -AppliesTo Object, ChildContainers))

# View the modified ACL:
# Get new SDDL:
# Get new binary form:

# Remember, WMI namespace SD hasn't been modified for real, just in in-memory instance of SD

Audit all WMI namespace rights:

function Get-ChildNamespace {

        [string] $Namespace = "root",
        [int] $Level = 1

    # Decrement level (if argument wasn't supplied, you'll only get
    # the direct chidren)

    Get-WmiObject __Namespace -Namespace $Namespace | select -exp name | ForEach-Object {

        [PsCustomObject] @{
            FullName = "$Namespace\$_"
            Name = $_
            Namespace = $Namespace

        # Negative numbers mean recurse forever
        if ($Level) {
            & $MyInvocation.MyCommand -Namespace "$Namespace\$_" -RecurseLevel $Level

# Store SDs for all namesapces in $WmiNsSD (gwmi)
$WmiSDs = Get-ChildNamespace -Level -1 | 
    select -exp fullname | 
    % {"root"}{ $_ } | 
    sort | 
    % { Get-WmiObject -EnableAllPrivileges __SystemSecurity -Namespace $_ } | 

# Just show with default formatting:

# Or show with ACEs expanded as their own objects
$WmiSDs | Get-AccessControlEntry

# Only show ACEs that aren't inherited:
$WmiSDs | Get-AccessControlEntry -AceNotInherited

And here is a screenshot showing the default formatting after calling ‘Get-Service b* | Get-AccessControlEntry’:

Get-Service b* | Get-AccessControlEntry

Get-Service b* | Get-AccessControlEntry

And one after calling ‘Get-Service bits | Get-SecurityDescriptor’

Get-Service | Get-SecurityDescriptor

Get-Service | Get-SecurityDescriptor

There are a lot of examples in the comment based help for the functions, too. If you have any issues/suggestions, please let me know.

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.

This is a function from my PowerShellAccessControl module that is used to take the SDDL or binary form of a security descriptor (SD) as input and output an object that resembles an SD from Get-Acl. Right off the bat, let me say that this thing is missing a lot of functionality. It currently only works with discretionary ACLs (the ACLs that control access to objects). Also, the script methods that it exposes aren’t very discoverable via Get-Member since they were added with Add-Member. This thing really deserves to have a true C# object be its output, and I’ll probably go in that direction at some point in the future.

Even with its flaws, I still think it’s a very useful function. Here’s the functionality of a Get-Acl SD that it currently mimics:

  • Access property lists each ACE
  • AccessToString property lists the value of the Access property in a single string
  • Sddl property gives the SDDL representation of the entire SD object
  • GetSecurityDescriptorBinaryForm method gives the binary form of the entire SD object
  • AddAccessRule method takes an ACE as input and adds it to the discretionary ACL
  • RemoveAccessRule takes either an index to an ACE or an ACE object and removes it from the discretionary ACL

So, if you can get to either the SDDL or binary form of a SD, you can pass that to this function and get an object that is much more readable, and that has the ability to change the discretionary ACL.

Besides the two SD input parameters (SDDL or BinarySD; you can only use one at a time), the function has two parameters: AccessMaskEnumeration and Path.

The AccessMaskEnumeration is an optional parameter that the output object can use to translate the access rights of the object into a readable string. In an SD, all access rights are stored as a bitmask. If you don’t have an enumeration to do the translating of rights, you’ll just see an integer in each ACE where the access rights should go. You’ll still be able to see what users/groups have rights to the object, but you won’t know what rights they have (unless you know what the numeric values mean). The function comes with several enumerations for different types of objects, and I’m going to devote a blog post to creating one for printers to show how you can easily make your own for future use. Here is a list of the enumerations that the module comes with:

PS> [System.AppDomain]::CurrentDomain.GetAssemblies().GetTypes() | 
Where-Object FullName -match "^PowerShellAccessControl\."

IsPublic IsSerial Name                                     BaseType
-------- -------- ----                                     --------
True     True     LogicalShareRights                       System.Enum
True     True     WmiNamespaceRights                       System.Enum
True     True     WsManAccessRights                        System.Enum
True     True     ServiceAccessRights                      System.Enum 

The Path parameter is another optional parameter. It gives you the ability to look at the output SD object and tell where it came from. This is very useful when you have more than one SD object and you use the Get-AccessControlEntry function from the module.

Let’s go over some examples!

Here’s a way to get the WMI namespace access rights for the root\cimv2 namespace (NOTE: I’m using the GetSD WMI method on the class directly instead of a different function that I included in the module called Get-Win32SecurityDescriptor. I’ll explain why I used this WMI method directly when I cover the Get-Win32SecurityDescriptor function).

PS> # This should be run from an elevated PS prompt:
PS> $BinarySD = Get-CimClass __SystemSecurity -Namespace root\cimv2 | 
Invoke-CimMethod -MethodName GetSD | 
Select-Object -ExpandProperty SD

PS> $SD = New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -BinarySD $BinarySD -Path "root\CIMV2 NameSpace"

PS> $SD.Access | ft

ObjectRights AccessControlType IdentityReference                IsInherited InheritanceFlags PropagationFlags
------------ ----------------- -----------------                ----------- ---------------- ----------------
      393279     AccessAllowed BUILTIN\Administrators                  True ContainerInherit             None
          19     AccessAllowed NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE            True ContainerInherit             None
          19     AccessAllowed NT AUTHORITY\LOCAL SERVICE              True ContainerInherit             None
          19     AccessAllowed NT AUTHORITY\Authenticated Users        True ContainerInherit             None

PS> # Notice the ObjectRights listed are numeric. Let's try this again with an enumeration:

PS> $SD = New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -BinarySD $BinarySD -Path "root\CIMV2 Namespace" -AccessMaskEnumeration ([PowerShellAccessControl.WmiNamespaceRights])

PS> $SD.Access | ft # Some columns are dropped:

                                ObjectRights AccessControlType IdentityReference                IsInherited
                                ------------ ----------------- -----------------                -----------
... RemoteEnable, ReadSecurity, EditSecurity     AccessAllowed BUILTIN\Administrators                  True
EnableAccount, ExecuteMethods, ProviderWrite     AccessAllowed NT AUTHORITY\NETWORK SERVICE            True
EnableAccount, ExecuteMethods, ProviderWrite     AccessAllowed NT AUTHORITY\LOCAL SERVICE              True
EnableAccount, ExecuteMethods, ProviderWrite     AccessAllowed NT AUTHORITY\Authenticated Users        True

Show the ACEs for the microsoft.powershell session configuration:

PS> # This should be run from an elevated PS prompt
PS> dir WSMan:\localhost\Plugin\microsoft.powershell\Resources -Recurse | 
Where Name -eq Sddl | 
ForEach-Object { 
    New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -Sddl $_.Value -Path $_.PsPath -AccessMaskEnumeration ([PowerShellAccessControl.WsManAccessRights])
} | 
Select -exp Access

ObjectRights      : Full
AccessControlType : AccessAllowed
IdentityReference : BUILTIN\Administrators
IsInherited       : False
InheritanceFlags  : None
PropagationFlags  : None

ObjectRights      : Full
AccessControlType : AccessAllowed
IdentityReference : BUILTIN\Remote Management Users
IsInherited       : False
InheritanceFlags  : None
PropagationFlags  : None

Show the AccessToString property for all of the shares on a remote computer named ‘server’ (I’m using another function from the module that I will devote a blog post to soon):

PS> Get-CimInstance -ClassName Win32_LogicalShareSecuritySetting -ComputerName server | 
Get-Win32SecurityDescriptor -Sddl |
New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -AccessMaskEnumeration ([PowerShellAccessControl.LogicalShareRights]) | 
Select Path, AccessToString |

Path           : \\server\root\cimv2:Win32_LogicalShareSecuritySetting.Name="share01"
AccessToString : Everyone AccessAllowed FullControl
                 BUILTIN\Users AccessAllowed Read

Path           : \\server\root\cimv2:Win32_LogicalShareSecuritySetting.Name="share02"
AccessToString : BUILTIN\Administrators AccessAllowed FullControl
                 Everyone AccessAllowed FullControl

Show all ACEs from any object named Sddl in the local WSMan configuration (I’m using another function that will be described later this week; you’ll have to run this and see the results):

PS> # This should be run from an elevated PS prompt
PS> dir WSMan:\localhost -Recurse | 
Where Name -eq Sddl | 
ForEach-Object { 
    New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor -Sddl $_.Value -Path $_.PsPath -AccessMaskEnumeration ([PowerShellAccessControl.WsManAccessRights])
} | 
Get-AccessControlEntry |

So, if you can get access to a hard to read SDDL form or an impossible to read binary form of an SD, you should be able to turn it into something that’s readable with New-AdaptedSecurityDescriptor. If you have an enumeration that translates the object rights into a readable form, that’s even better (but not necessary). You can then use that object to audit and/or modify the SD (those are for another day).

I hope that you find this function useful. Please try it out and tell me what you think. Stay tuned for more posts on the module, including more on this function!