Planning the GPOs

Applies To: Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2008 R2

When you plan the GPOs for your different isolation zones, you must complete the layout of the required zones and their mappings to the groups that link the computers to the zones.

General considerations

A few things to consider as you plan the GPOs:

  • Do not allow a computer to be a member of more than one isolation zone. A computer in more than one zone receives multiple and possibly contradictory GPOs. This can result in unexpected, and difficult to troubleshoot behavior.

    The examples in this guide show GPOs that are designed to prevent the requirement to belong to multiple zones.

  • You must know the mix of computers that will be part of any specific zone. If the zone contains computers running Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 as well as computers running Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2 then you must design multiple GPOs, one for each set of operating systems, with the appropriate IPsec policies, and including WMI filters to apply each GPO to the correct computers.

    The Planning GPO Deployment section discusses how to ensure that each operating system version receives the correct GPO.

  • Ensure that the IPsec algorithms you specify in your GPOs are compatible across all the versions of Windows. For example, if you have any computers running Windows 2000, then you must ensure that all computers include the main mode Diffie-Hellman Group 2 key exchange algorithm, because Windows 2000 cannot use more the advanced Diffie-Hellman groups. The same principle applies to the data integrity and encryption algorithms. We recommend that you include the more advanced algorithms when you have the option of selecting several in an ordered list. The computers will negotiate down from the top of their lists, selecting one that is configured on both computers. So a computer that is running Windows 7 that is connected to a server that is running Windows Server 2008 R2 can communicate by using a much more secure algorithm, while computers running Windows 2000 or Windows XP connect to the same server by using a less secure, but compatible algorithm.

  • The primary difference in your domain isolation GPOs is whether the rules request or require authentication.


It is critical that you begin with all your GPOs set to request authentication instead of requiring it. Since the GPOs are delivered to the computers over time, applying a require policy to one computer breaks its ability to communicate with another computer that has not yet received its policy. Using request mode at the beginning enables computers to continue communicating by using plaintext connections if required. After you confirm that your computers are using IPsec where expected, you can schedule a conversion of the rules in the GPOs from requesting to requiring authentication, as required by each zone.

  • Windows Firewall with Advanced Security in Windows Vista and Windows Server 2008 only support one network location profile at a time. If you add a second network adapter that is connected to a different network, or not connected at all, you could unintentionally change the profile that is currently active on the computer. If your GPO specifies different firewall and connection security rules based on the current network location profile, the behavior of how the computer handles network traffic will change accordingly. We recommend for stationary computers, such as desktops and servers, that you assign any rule for the computer to all profiles. Apply GPOs that change rules per network location to computers that must move between networks, such as your portable computers. Consider creating a separate domain isolation GPO for your servers that uses the same settings as the GPO for the clients, except that the server GPO specifies the same rules for all network location profiles. For more information, see Network Location Types at


Computers running Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 R2 support different network location types, and therefore profiles, for each network adapter at the same time. Each network adapter is assigned the network location appropriate for the network to which it is connected. Windows Firewall then enforces only those rules that apply to that network type’s profile. So certain types of traffic are blocked when coming from a network adapter connected to a public network, but those same types might be permitted when coming from a private or domain network.

  • Windows Server 2003 and Windows XP support only two network location profiles: domain and standard. The standard profile supported in those earlier versions of Windows is now split between the public and private profiles supported in Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2. If you apply a GPO with IPsec rules configured for the earlier versions of Windows to a computer that is running Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008 or Windows Server 2008 R2, the rules for the standard profile are applied to only the private profile.

After considering these issues, document each GPO that you require, and the details about the connection security and firewall rules that it needs.

Woodgrove Bank example GPOs

The Woodgrove Bank example uses the following set of GPOs to support its domain isolation requirements. This section only discusses the rules and settings for server and domain isolation. GPO settings that affect which computers receive the GPO, such as security group filtering and WMI filtering, are discussed in the Planning GPO Deployment section.

In this section you can find information about the following: