Reading Security Descriptors with Security Masks

Every object in Active Directory and ADAM contains an attribute called ntSecurityDescriptor. This attribute contains a Windows security descriptor object that contains the discretionary access control list (DACL), the system access control list (SACL), group, and owner information that controls the object's access control behavior.

In .NET 2.0, a new property called SecurityMasks has been added to DirectorySearcher that allows us to control which components of the security descriptor are returned in the data when we request the ntSecurityDescriptor attribute in a search operation.

We cover security descriptors in great detail in Chapters 6 and 8. Chapter 6 contains a complete discussion of reading and writing security descriptors as a whole, and Chapter 8 actually focuses on the internal structure of security descriptors. Please refer to both of those chapters for an explanation of why this property is important and what we can do with the data once we have it.

In this chapter, we will simply demonstrate how to use the new property of the DirectorySearcher effectively. Listing 5.9 contains a sample.

Listing 5.9. Retrieving a Security Descriptor

string adsPath = "LDAP://dc=domain,dc=com";

//explicitly create our searchroot
DirectoryEntry searchRoot = new DirectoryEntry(

using (searchRoot) //we are responsible for disposing
 DirectorySearcher ds = new DirectorySearcher(
 new string[]{"ntSecurityDescriptor"}

 //Get the Security for this object
 ds.SecurityMasks = SecurityMasks.Dacl
 | SecurityMasks.Group
 | SecurityMasks.Owner;

 SearchResult sr = ds.FindOne();

 if (sr == null)
 throw new Exception("No user found");

 byte[] descriptorBytes =

 ActiveDirectorySecurity ads = new ActiveDirectorySecurity();


 //helper function

 AuthorizationRuleCollection rules = ads.GetAccessRules(
 foreach (ActiveDirectoryAccessRule rule in rules)
 //helper function

Sample output:

=====Security Descriptor=====
 Owner: S-1-450115865-2557621802-512
 Group: S-1-450115865-2557621802-512
 AccessControlType: Allow
 ActiveDirectoryRights: ExtendedRight
 InheritanceType: None
 ObjectType: ab721a53-1e2f-11d0-9819-00aa0040529b
 ObjectFlags: ObjectAceTypePresent

We show the code for the two helper functions mentioned in Listing 5.3, called PrintSD and PrintAce, in Chapter 8, Listing 8.2. We omitted them here for brevity.

Asynchronous Searches

Part I: Fundamentals

Introduction to LDAP and Active Directory

Introduction to .NET Directory Services Programming

Binding and CRUD Operations with DirectoryEntry

Searching with the DirectorySearcher

Advanced LDAP Searches

Reading and Writing LDAP Attributes

Active Directory and ADAM Schema

Security in Directory Services Programming

Introduction to the ActiveDirectory Namespace

Part II: Practical Applications

User Management

Group Management


Part III: Appendixes

Appendix A. Three Approaches to COM Interop with ADSI

Appendix B. LDAP Tools for Programmers

Appendix C. Troubleshooting and Help


The. NET Developer's Guide to Directory Services Programming
The .NET Developers Guide to Directory Services Programming
ISBN: 0321350170
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2004
Pages: 165

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