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Research and Development


PowerShell - Execution Policy

The Restricted execution policy is a default setting for all computers with PowerShell installed. It isn't intended to be something that PowerShell users live with forever. It's a safe default that protects non PowerShell users from being impacted by PowerShell-based malware. For example, many home users had never used VBScript, but still got bitten by the flurry of WSH-based viruses that got mailed to them. PowerShell's Restricted execution policy solves this. To an attacker, a computer that has never used PowerShell is the same as a computer that doesn't have PowerShell installed at all.

Whenever you work with scripts, you need to keep in mind the current execution policy and whether signed scripts are required. The current execution policy for Windows PowerShell controls whether and how you can run configuration files and scripts. Execution policy is a built-in security feature of Windows PowerShell that is set on a per-user basis in the Windows registry. Although the default configuration depends on which operating system and edition is installed, you can determine the execution policy by entering Get-Executionpolicy at the PowerShell prompt.

The available execution policies are:

Execution policy determines whether you can load configuration files and run scripts as well as whether scripts must be digitally signed before they will run. When an execution policy prevents loading a file or running a script, a warning is displayed explaining applicable restrictions.

You can use Set-ExecutionPolicy to change the preference for the execution policy. Changes to the policy are written to the registry. However, if the Turn On Script Execution setting in Group Policy is enabled for the computer or user, the user preference is written to the registry, but it is not effective, and Windows PowerShell displays a message explaining the conflict. You cannot use Set-ExecutionPolicy to override a group policy, even if the user preference is more restrictive than the policy setting.

To set the execution policy so that scripts downloaded from the Web execute only if they are signed by a trusted source, enter:

set-executionpolicy remotesigned

The change occurs immediately and is applied to the local console or application session. Because the change is written to the registry, the new execution policy will be used whenever you work with PowerShell. As only administrators are allowed to change the execution policy on Windows Vista or later, you must run Windows PowerShell with the Run As Administrator option.

Set-Execution Policy


Set-ExecutionPolicy [-ExecutionPolicy] {<Unrestricted> | <RemoteSigned>
| <AllSigned> | <Restricted> | <Default> | <Bypass> | <Undefined>}
[[-Scope] {<Process> | <CurrentUser> | <LocalMachine> | <UserPolicy>
| <MachinePolicy>}] [-Force] [-Confirm] [-WhatIf] [<CommonParameters>]


Specifies the new execution policy. Valid values are:

Suppresses all prompts. By default, Set-ExecutionPolicy displays a warning whenever you change the execution policy.

Specifies the scope of the execution policy. The default is LocalMachine. Valid values are:

To remove an execution policy from a particular scope, set the execution policy for that scope to Undefined.

Prompts you for confirmation before executing the command.

Describes what would happen if you executed the command without actually executing the command.

This command supports the common parameters: Verbose, Debug, ErrorAction, ErrorVariable, OutBuffer, OutVariable, WarningAction, and WarningVariable.


When you use Set-ExecutionPolicy in any scope other than Process, the new user preference is saved in the registry and remains unchanged until you change it. When the value of the Scope parameter is Process, the user preference is stored in the environment variable PSExecutionPolicyPreference ($env:PSExecutionPolicyPreference), instead of the registry, and it is deleted when the session in which it is effective is closed. You cannot change the execution policy of the process by editing the variable.

If the Turn on Script Execution Group Policy is enabled for the computer or user, the user preference is saved, but it is not effective, and Windows PowerShell displays a message explaining the conflict. You cannot use Set-ExecutionPolicy to override a Group Policy, even if the user preference is more restrictive than the policy.

Example 1

C:\PS>set-executionpolicy remotesigned

This command sets the user preference for the shell execution policy to

` Example 2

C:\PS>Set-ExecutionPolicy Restricted

Set-ExecutionPolicy : Windows PowerShell updated your local preference
successfully, but the setting is overridden by the group policy applied
to your system. Due to the override, your shell will retain its current
effective execution policy of "AllSigned". Contact your group policy
administrator for more information.
At line:1 char:20
+ set-executionpolicy  <<<< restricted

This command attempts to set the execution policy for the shell to
"Restricted." The "Restricted" setting is written to the registry, but
because it conflicts with a Group Policy, it is not effective, even
though it is more restrictive than the policy.

Example 3

C:\PS>invoke-command -computername Server01 -scriptblock
{get-executionpolicy} | set-executionpolicy -force

This command gets the execution policy from a remote computer and
applies that execution policy to the local computer.

The command uses the Invoke-Command cmdlet to send the command to the
remote computer. Because you can pipe an ExecutionPolicy
(Microsoft.PowerShell.ExecutionPolicy) object to Set-ExecutionPolicy,
the Set-ExecutionPolicy command does not need an ExecutionPolicy

The command does have a Force parameter, which suppresses the user

Example 4

C:\PS>set-executionpolicy -scope CurrentUser -executionPolicy AllSigned -force

C:\PS> get-executionpolicy -list

        Scope   ExecutionPolicy
        ----- ---------------
MachinePolicy         Undefined
   UserPolicy         Undefined
      Process         Undefined
  CurrentUser         AllSigned
 LocalMachine      RemoteSigned

C:\PS> get-executionpolicy

This example shows how to set an execution policy for a particular scope.

The first command uses the Set-ExecutionPolicy cmdlet to set an
execution policy of AllSigned for the current user. It uses the Force
parameter to suppress the user prompts.

The second command uses the List parameter of Get-ExecutionPolicy to get
the execution policies set in each scope. The results show that the
execution policy that is set for the current user differs from the
execution policy set for all users of the computer. 

The third command uses the Get-ExecutionPolicy cmdlet without parameters
to get the effective execution policy for the current user on the local
computer. The result confirms that the execution policy that is set for
the current user takes precedence over the one set for all users.

Example 5

C:\PS>set-executionpolicy -scope CurrentUser -executionPolicy Undefined

This command uses an execution policy value of Undefined to effectively
remove the execution policy that is set for the current user scope. As
a result, the execution policy that is set in Group Policy or in the
LocalMachine (all users) scope is effective.

If you set the execution policy in all scopes to Undefined and the Group
Policy is not set, the default execution policy, Restricted, is effective
for all users of the computer.

Example 6

C:\PS>set-executionpolicy -scope Process -executionpolicy AllSigned

This command sets an execution policy of AllSigned for only the current
Windows PowerShell session.
This execution policy is saved in the PSExecutionPolicyPreference
environment variable ($env:PSExecutionPolicyPreference), so it does not
affect the value in the registry. The variable and its value are deleted
when the current session is closed.

Remotely Tweak PowerShell Execution Policy

When you set a execution policy in powershell it actually modifies registry value for ExecutionPolicy at the following location:

   Path    REG_SZ    C:\Windows\System32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe
   ExecutionPolicy    REG_SZ    Unrestricted

To set it up on a local machine run:

reg add "HKLM\SOFTWARE\MicrosoftPowerShell\1\ShellIds\Microsoft.PowerShell" `
/v ExecutionPolicy /t REG_SZ /d RemoteSigned /f

To set it up on a remote machine:

reg add "\\<machine_name>\HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PowerShell\1\
ShellIds\Microsoft.PowerShell" /v `
ExecutionPolicy /t REG_SZ /d RemoteSigned /f

If you have a list of remote computers in a file comp.txt you can run the following script:

for /f %i in (comp.txt) do reg add `
\\%i\HKLM\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\PowerShell\1\ShellIds\Microsoft.PowerShell `
/v ExecutionPolicy /t REG_SZ /d Unrestricted /f