Accessing impersonated user’s details from code behind in C#

In web development, config files play a very important role. Reading config file entries in a code-behind file is a very common thing in web development. 

Config entries are stored in web.config file in the <appSettings> tag and can be accessed using


There might be a case when we may have to access the impersonated user's details in our code. These details cannot be accessed using ConfigurationManager.AppSettings[]. 

To access the Impersonated user's details, we use the classes in the namespaces System.Web.Configuration and System.Configuration.

First, we access the configuration file as a "Configuration" object using the WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration("pathToConfigFile") method. The WebConfigurationManager class is defined in the System.Web.Configuration namespace.

Then we get the identity section from the config file to retrieve the user details. This is achieved using the IdentitySection class defined in System.Web.Configuration namespace and "GetSection()" method of "Configuration" class.

The "GetSection()" method returns the ConfigurationSection object specified in the parameter to the method. The return object is to be type cast into the required object type, in this case, "IdentitySection".

Then, IdentitySectionObject.propertyName gives the value of the corresponding property.

The sample code is as shown. I have written the code in the Page_Load method. 

using System.Web.Configuration;
using System.Configuration;
protected void Page_Load(object sender, EventArgs e)
    Configuration objConfigFile;
    //getting an instance of the configuration file
    objConfigFile = WebConfigurationManager.OpenWebConfiguration(HttpContext.Current.Request.ApplicationPath);
    //getting an instance of the "identity" section of the cofiguration file
    IdentitySection objIdentitySection = (IdentitySection)objConfigFile.GetSection("system.web/identity");
    if (objIdentitySection != null)
        string username = objIdentitySection.UserName;
        string password = objIdentitySection.Password;
        bool impersonate = objIdentitySection.Impersonate;
        Configuration currentConfiguration = objIdentitySection.CurrentConfiguration;
        //Obviously you won't be doing this. The lines below are just for testing purpose
        lblUsername.Text = username;
        lblPassword.Text = password;
        lblImpersonateOrNot.Text = impersonate.ToString();

The entry in the web.config file is as given below.

        <identity impersonate="true" userName="YourDomain\YourUserName" password="YourPassword" />

Obviously, you would not be printing the username and password on the screen. I have just included that for testing purpose. I have uploaded a sample website folder in a zip file. You can refer to that. 

Make sure you specify the domain of the computer in the username part because if you specify only the username, there is a chance that you might get a runtime exception saying 

Could not create Windows user token from the credentials specified in the config file. Error from the operating system ‘Logon failure: unknown username or bad password'. 

Hope this helps!!