When I launch a program that wants network communication for the first time, I get this dialog:

Windows Defender Firewall blocking dialog

It's been a part of Windows for a while now (this is running on Windows 10, but note the Vista/7 design language), and has always to my knowledge had the Public Networks choice checked by default. But based on the text, I don't understand this:

Allow (application) to communicate on these networks:

[ ] Private networks, such as my home or work network

[X] Public networks ... (not recommended because these networks often have little or no security)

Why would it default to the not recommended choice? Given people tend to be click-first ask-questions-later (myself included, from time to time), this seems like an obvious security hole - to do the recommended action, I have to check the first box, uncheck the second one, and then click the Allow Access box. Yet this appears to have gone unquestioned or unchanged for several years now.

Am I misunderstanding this dialog, or is there a legitimate reason for its default choice?

  • 2
    Are you currently connected to a network you have set as "public"? That would make sense if it's asking for an exception for the currently active firewall profile. May 2, 2020 at 16:54
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    I think I've seen it to default to this even on domain networks, but I'm not 100% sure. If so, it might be only someone from Microsoft knows the reasoning behind this. May 2, 2020 at 19:30
  • 3
    @multithr3at3d that's the right answer I think - it's pulling the default from the network setting. Interesting that every network I've connected to (home, work, friends etc) have always been set to Public, as far as I can remember. Changed it to Private on my home network and now the dialog has the first option checked by default and the Public one outright disabled. Happy to accept that if posted as an answer.
    – Kai
    May 2, 2020 at 19:53

1 Answer 1


You will want to set your network to private.

enter image description here

Note that private is different from secure. Your network can be "public" even if you have to enter a password to connect to it.

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