Friday, August 5, 2011

PowerShell script for dumping access control lists (ACL)

I don’ t know if I have ever mentioned, that I am in charge for the security of some of our systems. According to “The Open Web Application Security Project (OWASP)” ( security misconfiguration is at the 6th place of the TOP10 Risks. Since I am responsible for a web cluster I wrote a small PowerShell script for reporting the access control list (ACLs) . Given an root folder, the script traverse all child object recursively (depth first) and it only outputs those ACLs which are not inherited by the parent folder. I use the script for doing security reviews. This script can be also very useful if you are planning to migrate a webserver.

$path =  $args[0]   
$outPutFile =  $args[1]  
$startDate = Get-Date 
$newLine = "`r`n" #is a carrage return/line feed. 

#check input parameters
if([System.IO.Directory]::Exists($path) -eq $false){
    throw (new-object System.IO.DirectoryNotFoundException("Directory does not exist or is missing!"))
    $path = $path.Remove($path.Length-1, 1)
if ([System.String]::IsNullOrEmpty($outPutFile)){
    throw (new-object System.ApplicationException("OutputFile is missing!"))

#Build information for the header of the output file, if file exist it will be owerwritten!  
$header = "Start: " + $startDate + $newLine + "Output file: " + $outPutFile + $newLine + "ACL of the analyzed path: " + $path + $newLine
$mainPathAcl = get-ACL $path | Format-List
out-file -encoding ASCII -filePath $outPutFile -InputObject $header
out-file -encoding ASCII -filePath $outPutFile -append -InputObject $mainPathAcl

#depth first traverse
$myStack = new-object  System.Collections.Stack 
[System.IO.DirectoryInfo]$rootInfo = New-Object System.IO.DirectoryInfo($path)

while ($myStack.Count -ne 0){
    $actualItem = $myStack.Pop();  #get last item
    #add children to stack
    if ($actualItem -is [System.IO.DirectoryInfo])
        [System.IO.FileSystemInfo[]]$dirs2 = $actualItem.GetFileSystemInfos() | Sort-Object Name -Descending
        if ($dirs2){#check if it is null.
            Foreach ($dir1 in $dirs2) {  #add to the stack
        if($actualItem.Parent.FullName -eq $rootInfo.FullName){
            $appHeader = "" + $newLine + "------------------------" + $newLine + $actualItem.Name + $newLine + "------------------------"
              out-file -encoding ASCII -filePath $outPutFile -append -InputObject $appHeader    
    #dump acls if not inherited
    $aclActFile = Get-Acl -Path $actualItem.FullName
    $WriteFileHeader = $true; 
    Foreach ($Access in $aclActFile.Access) { 
        $Inherited = [string]$Access.IsInherited 
        if ($Inherited -eq "False") {
            #write File Header
              if ($WriteFileHeader) {
                $fileHeader = "File: " + $actualItem.FullName + $newLine + "SDDL: " + $aclActFile.Sddl
                out-file -encoding ASCII -filePath $outPutFile -append -InputObject  $fileHeader
                $WriteFileHeader = $false;
            #write AccessControl in csv
            $output = "ACL:  " + $Access.AccessControlType + ", " + $Access.IdentityReference + ", " + $Access.FileSystemRights 
            out-file -encoding ASCII -filePath $outPutFile -append -InputObject $output

$endDate = Get-Date 
$elapsedTime = $endDate - $startDate 
$footer = "" + $newLine + "Run completed at: " + $endDate + $newLine + "Elapsed Time:" + $newLine + $elapsedTime + $newLine
out-file -encoding ASCII -filePath $outPutFile -append -InputObject $footer 


  1. Copy this script in a file (example: aclDump.ps1)
  2. Open PowerShell
  3. Execute the following cmd, where parameter 1 is the root folder for dumbing ACL, and parameter 2 is the output file: .\aclDump.ps1 X:\Intepub C:\AclReport.txt.

PS: If you need to full backup ACLs or to transfer ACLs you should use tools like: SubInAcl (


  1. Hi, first of all, great script!
    Is there any easy way to modify it to only report folders and not files?


  2. It feels so nice to find somebody with some original thought on this subject. Really helpful to you for starting this security solutions ct

  3. Thank you very much for this. I have to confess my ignorance! but this almos does what I have been looking for, for a while now. Is there an easy way to change the script so that it dumps acls wether or not they are inherited?

  4. This post is really really nice. Keep writing such posts and I promise that I will keep reading them DJ Happy New Year 2018