MapGenericMask is just a convenience function for converting generic access to specific access, according to the instructions you provide

For some reason, people call the Map­Generic­Mask function in order to calculate what access mask to pass to request access to something. That's not what Map­Generic­Mask is for. The Map­Generic­Mask function is to assist the server side of the access, not the client side.

As the documentation says, the Map­Generic­Mask function maps the generic access rights in an access mask to specific and standard access rights. The function applies a mapping supplied in a GENERIC_MAPPING structure.

This is further explained in the remarks:

After calling the Map­Generic­Mask function, the access mask pointed to by the Access­Mask parameter has none of its generic bits (GenericRead, GenericWrite, GenericExecute, or GenericAll) or undefined bits¹ set, although it can have other bits set. If bits other than the generic bits are provided on input, this function does not clear them.

What this function does is take the Access­Mask parameter and convert all of the GENERIC_* bits into object-specific bits, as defined by the GENERIC_MAPPING.

In other words, the code for the Map­Generic­Mask function looks basically like this:

void MapGenericMask(
  PDWORD AccessMask,
 if (*AccessMask & GENERIC_READ)
     *AccessMask |= GenericMapping->GenericRead;

 if (*AccessMask & GENERIC_WRITE)
     *AccessMask |= GenericMapping->GenericWrite;

 if (*AccessMask & GENERIC_EXECUTE)
     *AccessMask |= GenericMapping->GenericExecute;

 if (*AccessMask & GENERIC_ALL)
     *AccessMask |= GenericMapping->GenericAll;

                  GENERIC_WRITE | GENERIC_ALL);

The function takes the access mask and sees if any of the generic access bits are set. If so, then it replaces them with the corresponding specific access bits provided by the Generic­Mapping parameter.

Note that this function doesn't tell you anything you don't already know. It's just a helper function to make access checks easier to implement: If you are a component that manages an object and you need to perform an access check, you use Map­Generic­Access to convert all the generic access requests into specific requests according to the rules you specified in your GENERIC_MAPPING, and the rest of your code only needs to deal with specific requests.

For example, we saw some time ago that a hypothetical Gizmo object could map GENERIC_READ to operations that query information from a Gizmo without modifying it, map GENERIC_WRITE to operations that alter the gizmo properties, map GENERIC_EXECUTE to operations that enable or disable the Gizmo, and map GENERIC_ALL to include all Gizmo operations.

And if you needed to do a security check on a Gizmo, you would do something like this:

BOOL IsGizmoAccessGranted(
 HTOKEN Token,
 DWORD AccessDesired,
 PDWORD AccessAllowed)
 MapGenericMask(&AccessDesired, &GizmoGenericMapping);

 BOOL AccessGranted = FALSE;
 PRIVILEGE_SET PrivilegeSet;
 DWORD PrivilegeSetSize = sizeof(PrivilegeSet);

 return AccessCheck(SecurityDescriptor,
            &AccessGranted) && AccessGranted;

When somebody wants to access a Gizmo, you use Map­Generic­Mask to convert all the generic requests to specific requests. You then pass that request to Access­Check, along with token for the user making the request and the security descriptor for the widget. The Access­Check function does the heavy lifting of seeing which ACEs apply to the user specified by the token, then verifying that all the requested accesses have an Allow ACE, and that none of the requested accesses have a Deny ACE. It also takes care of the MAXIMMUM_ALLOWED access request by simply returning all the accesses that are allowed and not denied.

The point of the Map­Generic­Mask function is to make life a little easier for the code that enforces security.

On the other hand, the Map­Generic­Mask function is not particularly useful on the side that is requesting access. If you are requesting generic read access, just pass GENERIC_READ. The code that does the security check will convert the GENERIC_READ into the access masks that are specific to the object you are trying to access. (And it will most likely use the Map­Generic­Mask function to do it.)

¹ That extra phrase "or undefined bits" is contradicted by the subsequent sentence "If bits other than the generic bits are provided on input, the function does not clear them." The second sentence is correct; the extra phrase "or undefined bits" is incorrect and should be removed.

Comments (5)
  1. anonymouscommenter says:

    > MapGenericMask is just a convenience function for converting generic access to specific access,

    > according to the instructions you provide

    It also looks attractive on the mantelpiece, and is machine-washable.

    But seriously, no love for this entry? I've been watching it all day on zero comments. I too thought MGM was some sort of server-only 'magic' function that made silk purses out of sows' ears, so I learned something.

    But then again, I can't code for excrement.

  2. skSdnW says:

    @Why am I first?: Because there is not much more to add? The post leaves no unanswered questions and will probably help developers everywhere, the only comment I could think of would be "Thank you". I don't know if Raymond can see the number of votes but if I have no comments I just rate the post.

  3. anonymouscommenter says:

    skSdnW: The big unanswered question is how does Raymond even know that people call MapGenericMask when requesting access? Do people ask unrelated questions and then somebody notices MGM sitting there unnecessarily? Or do people post questions like "Why is my call to MGM not making a difference?"

  4. anonymouscommenter says:

    > how does Raymond even know that people call MapGenericMask when requesting access?

    I guess he sees it while debugging.

  5. Cube 8 says:

    Typo in the last line of the code snippet:

    *AccessMask &= ~(GENERIC_READ | GENERIC_WRITE |

                     GENERIC_WRITE | GENERIC_ALL);

    There are 2 GENERIC_WRITE flags. One of them should be GENERIC_EXECUTE.

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