I brought my personal notebook to work. Asked the IT technician to access the WiFi on it (it's a federal institution of health research, lots of biological risks involved). Then he noticed that the WiFi was already connected, but I never brought this notebook there before. My IT guy could not figure out how the laptop could have already been connected.

So my computer simply accessed a WPA2 WiFi network without knowing the proper password (and then it was memorized in the system, as I noticed later). Is that even possible? And how? It's a Linux Mint.

  • We have even less information than your IT department. We can only guess.
    – schroeder
    Oct 14, 2022 at 10:31
  • Bubble Hacker gave you a good answer. I was immediately hung up on the implication of a high risk high security network that allows personal devices to connect, that's insane! Oct 15, 2022 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


One thing should be clear - the computer did not hack or access the WiFi without any help from a person. There is no technical way for this to happen.

So how could it have happened?

  1. Your WiFi at home/somewhere else has the same name and password. Wifi uses SSID for identification and so if at any point you connected somewhere with the same WiFi SSID and password, it would authenticate automatically.

  2. The Linux distribution you have may have come from an image at work or your personal image. This image may have already contained the SSID and its password in the OS storage. You can try to verify this by looking at the known WiFi networks (see here) and see if you have more networks that you haven't connected to either.


It's conceivable this occurred due to Wireless Protected Setup (WPS). Roughly speaking, what the WPS button on a router does is put the WiFi network in an unsecured mode for 2 minutes. Not unreasonable for a home network, although the presence of a WPS-enabled device on a corporate network (or a federal institution) would typically be regarded as a high-risk vulnerability. Potentially there is a WPS device on your network, someone happened to press the button at the time you turned your laptop on, and your laptop auto-connected to it. Not a particularly likely scenario, but not impossible.

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