O R G A N I C / F E R T I L I Z E R: My Feeble Understanding of Bitwise

Oct 5, 2015

My Feeble Understanding of Bitwise

I thought I would set the record straight that by posting something about bitwise does not make me an authority. It doesn’t even make me mildly educated about the concept. In fact, if you have been with me since the beginning, you will know the intention of my blog to create posts that would serve as reminders of how I did something previously -- or interesting stuff that I might have found. With that meager attempt at excusing my ignorance, let’s talk bitwise.

In my last post, I mentioned deciphering userAccountControl (UAC). As an aside, this bitwise stuff isn’t just AD. You can find it in other things like ConfigMgr for example. Remember advertFlags? That post contained some detail on decoding, bitwise, etc., as well.



Back to our previous example, we had a user with UAC value of 66048. We decoded 66048 into its two parts, 65536 and 512. I didn’t go into much detail on how I got those two values, so I thought I’d explain all that here.

First, a background on bitwise AND. Basically, you multiply two binary values together. Since you’re dealing with 0s and 1s, you can only end up with two conclusions -- a 0 or a 1:

0 x 0 = 0 0 x 1 = 0
1 x 0 = 0 1 x 1 = 1

It’s easier to show you what I mean.



Back to UAC 66048. If we convert this decimal value to binary, we get ‭10000001000000000‬. I’ll bring this up again in a minute, but for now, here are the list of flags again, since we’re going to need to reference it.



Ordinarily, you would run a bitwise AND for all these values against 66048 to see what came back as true. Let’s pick just a few as an example (since we already know how it’s going to go.)

Decimal Binary Flag
66048 ‭0001 0000 0010 0000 0000‬
65536 0001 0000 0000 0000 0000 DONT_EXPIRE_PASSWORD
512 ‭0000 0000 0010 0000 0000‬ NORMAL_ACCOUNT
256 ‭0000 0000 0001 0000 0000‬ TEMP_DUPLICATE_ACCOUNT
2 0000 0000 0000 0000 0010 ACCOUNTDISABLE

Added some leading zeroes just to make things line up correctly.

If we lay these values back over the table of all states, this is how it looks. Remember, where the 1s line up ( 1 x 1 = 1) the state is active. The far left column is the decimal equivalent of the binary value.


Removed the leading zeroes here to compress the display.

It’s as we expected. The 1s only line up on the 65536 and 512 values which means it’s a normal account with a password that never expires. GREAT!



There are other bitwise operators such as bitwise OR which is typically used to set a value. If the value already exists, then it doesn’t set it again. I haven’t had a chance to use it so I won’t get into it much.



Bet you’re wondering if there’s a faster way to do this. Well, that’s the great thing about bitwise operators. There is. Next post though.