Access Control List (Microsoft)


Access Control List (ACL) in Microsoft is a list of permissions attached to an object that specifies who or what is allowed access to that object and what operations they can perform on it. These objects can range from individual files and documents to entire programs. An ACL helps to retain security, distribution and management of data and resources.


Access Control List: /ˈæ kənˈtroʊl lɪst/ (Microsoft: /ˈmaɪ.kroʊ.sɒft/)

Key Takeaways


  1. Secures Network Traffic: Access Control List (ACL) in Microsoft is a key security feature that enables administrators to manage network traffic. It provides the ability to define and control network permissions and access, blocking unauthorized users or systems from accessing network resources.
  2. Operational Flexibility: ACL in Microsoft allows for operational flexibility. Administrators can use it to control traffic flow, filter out undesired network traffic, or redirect traffic as they see fit. Furthermore, it enables administrators to tailor their networks to their specific needs and preferences.
  3. Layered Security: Using ACL alongside other Microsoft security features promotes a layered security model. It acts as an additional layer of security, further protecting network resources from unauthorized access or cyber threats. This strengthens the overall security of your Microsoft system infrastructure.



Access Control List (ACL) in the context of Microsoft technology is pivotal because it plays a vital role in maintaining the security of a network or system. It specifies which users or system processes are granted access to objects, and what kind of operations are allowed on given objects. This tool enables administrators to control the level of access that each user has over a specific network, file, or folder, thus providing a nuanced set of security permissions. Without these lists, it would be much harder to manage permissions for a broad range of users, which could potentially lead to unauthorized access, manipulation of critical data, or security breaches. Therefore, ACL serves as an essential tool in data protection and security.


In the world of Microsoft, the term Access Control List (ACL) serves a highly crucial purpose. It is primarily used to define and manage permissions to objects such as files, folders, and resources in a Microsoft environment, enabling a more sophisticated and fine-grained control over access. Each ACL consists of a series of entries, denoting the permissions associated with different entities like users, groups, or roles that relate to an object. This essentially determines who can access the object and what activities can be performed.The usefulness of an ACL extends to a wide variety of applications, from restricting certain users from accessing sensitive files to permitting others to make changes to shared resources. It serves as a principal tool for administrators in managing access rights and ensuring that the right level of access is assigned to the right users, thereby enhancing security, and optimizing the organization’s operational effectiveness. Therefore, the ACL is more than just a list; it is a means of implementing a system’s access control policy, defending against unauthorized access and unwarranted changes.


1. Internet Service Providers: ISPs often use Microsoft’s Access Control List (ACL) to manage their network’s traffic. For instance, they may set up ACLs to block or limit certain IP addresses from accessing specific websites or online resources, thereby preventing malicious activities or controlling network congestion.2. Corporate Networks: Corporations commonly use ACLs in Microsoft to control access to confidential files or folders. Only employees with the necessary permissions (defined in the ACL) can view, edit, or delete these resources. For example, an organization might configure ACLs so only HR department can access employee records.3. Universities and Libraries: Educational institutions and libraries frequently use Microsoft’s Access Control List to manage access to their digital resources. For instance, they can use ACLs to restrict access to certain educational databases to only faculty and students, while preventing access from unauthenticated users or the general public.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

Q: What is the Access Control List (Microsoft)?A: Access Control List (ACL) in Microsoft is a list of permissions attached to an object that defines which users have access to that object and what operations they can perform.Q: How does the Access Control List function in Microsoft?A: ACLs function by assigning permissions to specific users or groups of users for a particular object, such as a file or directory. These permissions control the level of access users have, including full control, read, write, execute, and delete.Q: How can I view the Access Control List in Microsoft?A: The ACL for a file or directory can be viewed by right-clicking on the object, selecting ‘Properties’, and then clicking the ‘Security’ tab.Q: Can I modify an Access Control List in Microsoft, and how?A: Yes, you can modify an ACL. To do so, choose an object, right-click and select ‘Properties’. Then go to the ‘Security’ tab and click ‘Edit’ to add, remove or edit user and group permissions.Q: What are the types of permissions that can be assigned using ACL in Microsoft?A: The permissions that can be assigned range from Full Control, Modify, Read & Execute, List Folder Contents, Read, to Write.Q: What is the difference between Access Control List and Access Control Entries?A: An Access Control List is a collection of Access Control Entries. Each entry is specific to a user or group of users and defines their access level for the associated object.Q: What is the significance of ‘Inheritance’ in Access Control List?A: Inheritance in ACL means that objects within a container can inherit the permissions of the container. For example, files within a directory could inherit the directory’s permissions.Q: Are group permissions or specific user permissions prioritized in Microsoft ACL?A: Both are important in Microsoft ACL. However, if there’s a conflict, explicit permissions that are assigned to the user are prioritized over group permissions.Q: How does ACL enhance data security in my system?A: By letting you define access levels for different users and groups, ACL provides a granular way to control who can access your data and what they can do with it, which greatly enhances data security.Q: What happens if two contradicting permissions are set on the same object in Microsoft ACL?A: The principal of “deny overrides” applies in Microsoft ACL. If two contradicting permissions are set on the same object, the deny permission would take precedence over the allow permission.

Related Technology Terms

  • Permission Entries
  • Security Identifier (SID)
  • Discretionary Access Control List (DACL)
  • System Access Control List (SACL)
  • Access Control Entry (ACE)

Sources for More Information


About The Authors

The DevX Technology Glossary is reviewed by technology experts and writers from our community. Terms and definitions continue to go under updates to stay relevant and up-to-date. These experts help us maintain the almost 10,000+ technology terms on DevX. Our reviewers have a strong technical background in software development, engineering, and startup businesses. They are experts with real-world experience working in the tech industry and academia.

See our full expert review panel.

These experts include:


About Our Editorial Process

At DevX, we’re dedicated to tech entrepreneurship. Our team closely follows industry shifts, new products, AI breakthroughs, technology trends, and funding announcements. Articles undergo thorough editing to ensure accuracy and clarity, reflecting DevX’s style and supporting entrepreneurs in the tech sphere.

See our full editorial policy.

More Technology Terms

Technology Glossary

Table of Contents