Object Permissions and ACLs

Although the concepts of permissions and ACLs were just discussed, you’ll need to know a little more about them. First of all, every object in Active Directory has an associated ACL. This controls who can do what to an object. By default, the ACL associated with an object is hidden, but can be viewed in the object’s properties after choosing to view Advanced Features from the View menu item in Active Directory Users and Computers.

After this has been done, access the ACL from the security tab in the object’s properties. The list of ACEs will be different based on the type of object, and will control what users can and cannot do with respect to that object. As a best practice, you should note that it is generally not a good idea to change the ACL of individual objects. Instead, change the ACL on a parent object, and by default these changes will be inherited by all child objects.

You will note that a DACL has two main columns in which ACEs can be modified – Allow and Deny. The rule is simple – the effective permissions that will apply to a user when accessing an object are the combination of all permissions that apply to the user, but an explicit deny always overrides an allow. The deny permissions should be used for special cases, such as when you want to give all users in the Help Desk group the ability to change object information for user accounts, but need to explicitly deny a single user who is a member of that group the same privilege.

Note also that the ACL that you see when viewing the permissions on an object is the standard list. If you click on the Advanced button, you are presented with a list of users and groups and their associated permissions.

By choosing an entry from the list and then choosing View/Edit, you can access an even more granular level of permissions for the object, which includes controlling how inheritance settings will be applied to the object by default, as shown below.

Author: Dan DiNicolo

Dan DiNicolo is a freelance author, consultant, trainer, and the managing editor of 2000Trainers.com. He is the author of the CCNA Study Guide found on this site, as well as many books including the PC Magazine titles Windows XP Security Solutions and Windows Vista Security Solutions. Click here to contact Dan.