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Permissions and security descriptors

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Permissions and security descriptors

Every container and object on the network has a set of access control information attached to it. Known as a security descriptor, this information controls the type of access allowed to users and groups. The security descriptor is automatically created along with the container or object that is created. A typical example of an object with a security descriptor is a file.

Permissions are defined within an object's security descriptor. Permissions are associated with, or assigned to, specific users and groups. For example, for the file Temp.dat, the Administrator group might be assigned read, write, and delete permissions, while the Operator group might be assigned Read and Write permissions only.

Each assignment of permissions to a user or group is known as a permission entry, which is a type of access control entry (ACE). The entire set of permission entries in a security descriptor is known as a permission set or access control list (ACL). Thus, for a file named Temp.dat, the permission set includes two permission entries, one for the Administrator group and one for the Operator group.

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