C# : Windows Impersonation

The WindowsImpersonationContext class provides us with the ability to impersonate an user.

In the following post we're going to look at how to write to a protected shared folder using impersonation.

You will notice that the WindowsImpersonationContext class doesn't have a constructor, nor any static methods defined - one can however get an instance of this class via the Impersonate static method in the WindowsIdentity class, observe:
using (WindowsImpersonationContext context = WindowsIdentity.Impersonate(token))
	// Some operation requiring impersonation

Note, the WindowsImpersonationContext class implements the IDisposable interface which enables us to use the using clause - code out of scope (running outside) the using clause won't be executed within context of the impersonated user.

In order for our impersonation to work, we need to pass a primary token to our method, to retrieve the token, we'll need to import a method from the "Advanced Services" assembly (advapi32.dll) like this:
[DllImport("advapi32.dll", SetLastError = true)]
public static extern bool LogonUser(string lpszUsername, string lpszDomain, string lpszPassword, int dwLogonType, int dwLogonProvider, ref IntPtr phToken);

And an import to dispose of the token.
public static extern bool CloseHandle(IntPtr token);

You might have noticed the LogonType and LogonProvider parameters in the LogonUser method, we need to tell the API by which means authentication must happen - to simplify this, I created two enum's:
enum LogonType
	Interactive = 2,
	Network = 3,
	Batch = 4,
	Service = 5,
	Unlock = 7,
	NetworkClearText = 8,
	NewCredentials = 9
enum LogonProvider
	Default = 0,
	WinNT35 = 1,
	WinNT40 = 2,
	WinNT50 = 3

I am not going to go into too much depth about these providers, but lets have a quick look at the Interactive and NewCredentials LogonTypes.

Using the Interactive LogonType will look something like this:
IntPtr token = IntPtr.Zero;
bool valid = LogonUser("username",
			ref token);
if (valid)
	using (WindowsImpersonationContext context = WindowsIdentity.Impersonate(token))
		File.WriteAllBytes(@"\\yourserver\someshare\test.txt", new byte[] { });

Now this is all nice and all when we're impersonating someone thats on the same domain as us, but what about impersonating outside our domain?

This is where I found the NewCredentials LogonType useful, since it authenticates cross domain:
IntPtr token = IntPtr.Zero;
			ref token);
using (WindowsImpersonationContext context = WindowsIdentity.Impersonate(token))
	File.WriteAllBytes(@"\\yourserver\someshare\test.txt", new byte[] { });

I didnt include the valid bool in the preceding snippet, this is because you'll find that the LogonUser method seems to always return true when using the NewCredentials LogonType since authentication only happens when you're accessing the resource, in this case the File.WriteAllBytes method.


What a small but great info. Thank you so much. You saved my ass

I am still getting error as - The trust relationship between this workstation and the primary domain failed.

This is pure gold. Thanks!

Thank you very much

Local Account

Do you need a local account with the same name and pw as the account on the different domain?


Thank you very much! This is exactly what I was looking for. Have a nice day, friend.


Thanks a lotto

Well written. Save me heaps of time.


Thanks A lot many times. This saved me my day. Thanks, Albert

Thank you!

Thank you! Your post was exactly what I needed! You saved my time! Best regards!

1 2 Last / 2 Pages (12 Entries)

Post comment

Name *
Body *
Security Code
* Required fields

Latest Posts

MS SQL: Parameter Sniffing

2012-05-21 22:38:48

Be the best stalker you can be

2011-12-13 22:33:54

Top 5 posts

Moving items between listboxes in ASP.net/PHP example

Move items between two listboxes in ASP.net(C#, VB.NET) and PHP
2008-06-12 17:07:43

Simple WYSIWYG Editor

Creating a WYSIWYG textbox for your website is actually quite simple.
2007-02-01 12:00:00

C# YouTube : Google API

Post on how to integrate with YouTube using the Google Data API
2011-03-12 08:37:51

Populate a TreeView Control C#

Populate a TreeView control in a windows application.
2009-08-27 16:01:03

Cross Browser Issues: Firefox Word Wrapping

Firefox word wrapping issues
2008-06-09 09:51:21