Disable Automatic Wireless Connections

By default, a wireless-ready laptop or PC running Windows XP will connect to "Any available network" and "Automatically connect to non-preferred networks". Convenient? Yes. But very risky. Not only might you be accused of war-dialing or unauthorized intrusion, chances are there's no encryption or other controls in place to ensure your data isn't easily accessible to others on the same wireless network.

Here's how to beef up your wireless safety by disabling automatic wireless connections.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: Less than 5 minutes

Here's How:

  1. If using the Windows Classic Start menu, click Start | Settings | Control Panel. If using the default Windows XP Start menu, click Start | Control Panel.
  2. Double-click the Network Connections icon to view network connections.
  3. You may have several connection options listed. Right-click the icon for "Wireless Network Connection" and choose Properties.
  4. In the Wireless Network Connection Properties dialog box, select the Wireless Networks tab.
  5. If the "Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings" is not checked, third-party connection software may be in use. Consult that product's documentation to determine how to disable automatic wireless connections. If the "Use Windows to configure my wireless network settings" is checked, then continue with the steps below.
  1. Under Preferred networks, highlight the name of the network to which you plan to connect and click Advanced.
  2. In the Advanced dialog box, click "Access point (infrastructure) networks only".
  3. Remove the check mark from "Automatically connect to non-preferred networks".
  4. Click Close.
  5. Click OK.
  6. Close the Network Connections window by clicking the X in the upper right corner of the window.

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