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Active Directory Policies

How to block automatic connection to Wi-Fi Hotspots using GPO

For organizations managing a fleet of Windows devices, ensuring secure and controlled network access is paramount. One aspect of this is preventing devices from automatically connecting to potentially unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots. This article provides a detailed guide for system administrators on how to use Group Policy to block devices from automatically connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots, enhancing network security and mitigating risks associated with uncontrolled network access.

Understanding the Risks of Automatic Wi-Fi Connections

Automatically connecting to Wi-Fi hotspots can expose devices and the network to various security risks, including unsecured or malicious networks, man-in-the-middle attacks, and unauthorized data access. Controlling this behavior through Group Policy helps maintain a secure and compliant IT environment.


  • Administrative Rights: You need to have administrative privileges in your Active Directory (AD) environment.
  • Group Policy Management Console (GPMC): This tool must be installed and accessible to configure Group Policies.

Step-by-Step Instructions

Step 1: Accessing Group Policy Management Console

Open GPMC by searching for “Group Policy Management” in the Start menu or by running gpmc.msc in the Run dialog.

Step 2: Creating or Editing a Group Policy Object
  • To create a new GPO, right-click on the domain or an Organizational Unit (OU) where you want the policy applied and select “Create a GPO in this domain, and Link it here…”.
  • To modify an existing GPO, locate it under the appropriate domain or OU, right-click it, and choose “Edit”.
Step 3: Navigate to Wireless Network Policies

In the Group Policy Management Editor, go to: Computer ConfigurationPoliciesWindows SettingsSecurity SettingsWireless Network (IEEE 802.11) Policies.

Step 4: Creating a New Wireless Network Policy
  • Right-click on “Wireless Network (IEEE 802.11) Policies” and select “Create A New Wireless Network Policy for Windows Vista and Later Releases”.
  • Name the policy and provide a description as necessary.
Step 5: Configuring Network Permissions
  • In the new policy window, go to the “Network Permissions” tab.
  • Under “Prevent connections to the following networks,” ensure that “Ad hoc networks” and “Networks not profiled by this policy” are selected.
  • This will prevent automatic connections to non-profiled Wi-Fi networks and ad hoc networks.
Step 6: Disabling Automatic Connection
  • In the same tab, you can specify whether to automatically connect to non-preferred networks. Ensure this option is set to “Deny” or “Disable”.
Step 7: Applying and Enforcing the Policy
  • Click “OK” to save the policy settings.
  • Close the Group Policy Management Editor.
  • The policy will apply at the next Group Policy refresh cycle. For immediate application, run gpupdate /force on the client machines.

Advanced Configuration and Use Cases

  1. Targeted Policy Application: Apply the policy to specific OUs or groups that have higher security requirements, such as executive teams or IT staff.
  2. Use Case – Remote Workers: Ensure remote workers connect only to secure and known networks by preventing automatic connections to open hotspots.
  3. Use Case – Compliance: In industries with strict data protection regulations, controlling network access is often a compliance requirement.

Security Considerations

  • Monitoring and Auditing: Implement monitoring to ensure compliance with the policy and to audit network connections.
  • User Training: Educate users about the risks associated with unsecured Wi-Fi networks and the rationale behind the policy.
  • Policy Updates: Regularly review and update the wireless network policies to adapt to new security threats and organizational needs.


  • Connectivity Issues: If users experience connectivity problems, ensure the policy is correctly configured and is not overly restrictive.
  • Policy Application Problems: Use tools like Resultant Set of Policy (RSoP) or gpresult for troubleshooting Group Policy issues.


Implementing a policy to block automatic connections to Wi-Fi hotspots using Group Policy is a critical step in securing an organization’s network infrastructure. This approach helps mitigate the risks associated with uncontrolled network access, ensuring that devices connect only to authorized and secure networks. By following the steps outlined in this guide, system administrators can effectively manage wireless network settings, enhancing the overall security posture of the organization.

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