Home > Articles > Operating Systems, Server > Microsoft Servers

Resolving User SIDs

All security hinges on one central idea, that there is a user to whom you want to either grant or deny access. New Riders' author and Perl programming expert Dave Roth explains what security identifiers are and how to map SIDs to user accounts.
This article is excerpted from Chapter 11 of Win32 Perl Programming, by David Roth.
Like this article? We recommend

All security hinges on one central idea, that there is a user to whom you want to either grant or deny access. Generally, humans like to think of a user as a name such as "Dave" or "Administrator." This is fine for humans but inconvenient for computers. It is not efficient to always compare a string of characters as a name with a security permission. Likewise, human names can change. If a user account includes a last name as in "Jane_Doe" and she remarries, it might change to "Jane_Smith." This would require the Administrator to change all permissions that once pointed to "Jane_Doe"; this can be quite time-consuming and is error-prone.

To solve this, Win32 introduced the concept of a security identifier (SID). This is a unique binary value that Win32 maps to a username. When you associate security permissions with a user, you are really mapping the permissions to the user's SID. This enables the username to change as often as needed because it does not change the SID. This enables a scenario such as user "Joe" leaving the company and being replaced by user "Jane." All the Administrator needs to do is rename Joe's account to "Jane" and change the password. Jane now has the exact same security access as Joe did.

A SID can be represented as either a binary or a text string. Generally speaking, most coders refer to the text version of a SID because it is easier for humans to interpret. Here's an example of such a text SID:




This value identifies not only a particular user but also the domain in which the user account resides. Therefore, this value will not be the same for two accounts that are named the same but from different domains.

Two functions built into Win32 Perl provide mapping between SIDs and user accounts. These are the Win32::LookupAccountSID() and Win32::LookupAccountName() functions.

The Win32::Perms extension also provides two convenient functions to map the SIDs to usernames. The first of these is the Win32::Perms::ResolveSid() function:

$TextSid = Win32::Perms::ResolveSid( $Account [, $BinarySid [, $Machine ] );

The first parameter ($Account) is the account you want to look up. This can be either a username (such as Joe) or a full account name including a domain (such as Accounting\Joe). You can specify a machine's local account by specifying the machine name in the account, as in \\MyMachine\Administrator. See Table 1 for details on the different formats the account name can be.

The second, optional parameter ($BinarySid) will be set with the binary SID if the function is successful. Therefore, this must be a variable (no constants). Its previous value will be overwritten.

The optional third parameter ($Machine) specifies a particular machine to perform the SID lookup. This is useful when looking up a local account name such as "Administrator." The machine name must be prefixed with double backslashes as in \\Machine.

If the function is successful, it returns a text-based SID. If the second parameter is passed in as a scalar variable, it will be set with the account's binary SID. If the function fails, nothing is returned.

Example 1 shows how the ResolveSid() function works. The first few lines (2 through 4) discover the current user's username and domain. This information is passed into the function to represent the user's user account. Line 9 attempts to resolve the account to a SID. If it is successful, $Sid{binary} is set to the binary SID, and the function returns a text-based SID.

Example 1 Looking up a SID from an account name

01. use Win32::Perms;
02. my $Domain = Win32::DomainName();
03. my $User = Win32::LoginName();
04. my $Account = sprintf( "%s%s", ( "" ne $Domain )?
"$Domain\\":"", $User );
05. my %Sid = (
06.  text  => "",
07.  binary => ""
08. );
09. if( $Sid{text} = Win32::Perms::ResolveSid( $Account, $Sid{binary} ) )
10. {
11.  print "You are logged in as $Account.\n";
12.  print "Your SID is: $Sid{text}\n";
13.  print "Your binary SID is: '$Sid{binary}'\n";
14. }
15. else
16. {
17.  print "\tCouldn't lookup the SID for $Domain\\$User:
18. }

Table 1 Different Win32::Perms Account Formats

Account Format



User account. The account is first searched for as a local account on the local machine. If it is not found, the default domain is examined.


Domain account. The specified domain is searched for the account name.


Local machine account. The specified machine is searched for a local account. If the specified machine does not have such an account, the search continues on the default domain.

If you already have a SID but need to look up the user account associated with it, you can use the ResolveAccount() function:

$Account = Win32::Perms::ResolveAccount( $TextSid | $BinarySid [, $Machine ] );

The first parameter is the SID you are looking up. This can be either a text or binary SID. The function will determine which type of SID you are using and will handle it accordingly.

The optional second parameter indicates what machine on the network is to perform the lookup. If the SID represents a local account or group on a remote machine, you need to specify the remote machine in this parameter. The machine name must be prefixed with double backslashes as in \\Machine.

If the function is successful, it will return the account name in the form of "domain\user." Otherwise, the function returns nothing.

Example 2 shows how both the ResolveSid() and ResolveAccount() functions work. Notice that line 9 looks up the current user's SID, and then line 15 uses that SID to look up the user's name. Line 15 passes in a binary SID, but it could just as well pass in the text SID ($Sid{text}) instead.

Example 2 Resolving accounts and SIDs

01.use Win32::Perms;
02.my $Domain = Win32::DomainName();
03.my $User = Win32::LoginName();
04.my $Account = sprintf( "%s%s", ( "" ne $Domain )?
"$Domain\\":"", $User );
05.my %Sid = (
06. text  => ""
07. binary => ""
09.if( $Sid{text} = Win32::Perms::ResolveSid( $Account, $Sid{binary} ) )
11. print "You are logged in as $Account.\n";
12. print "Your SID is: $Sid{text}\n";
13. print "Your binary SID is: '$Sid{binary}'\n";
14. print "Looking up your user account based on your SID:\n";
15. if( my $LookupAccount = Win32::Perms::ResolveAccount( $Sid{binary} )
16. {
17.  print "\tBinary SID maps to: $LookupAccount\n";
18. }
19. else
20. {
21.  print "\tCouldn't lookup the account: $^E\n";
22. }
23. if( my $LookupAccount = Win32::Perms::ResolveAccount( $Sid{text} ) )
24. {
25.  print "\tText SID maps to: $LookupAccount\n";
26. }
27. else
28. {
29.  print "\tCouldn't lookup the account: $^E\n";
30. }
34.  print "\tCouldn't lookup the SID for $Domain\\$User:

About This Article

If you want more in-depth information on security identifiers, check out Chapter 11, "Security," of Win32 Perl Programming, by David Roth (© 2002 New Riders Publishing, ISBN 1-57870-216-x).


InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information

To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.


Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.


If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information

Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information

Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents

California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure

Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact

Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice

We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020