I had a question the other day asking whether the encrypted password which can be specified within an ESXi Kickstart file (denoted by the --isencrypted flag) can use a different hashing algorithm other than MD5? The answer is absolutely yes. In fact, MD5 as a default hashing algorithm has NOT been used for a number of releases, probably dating back to classic ESX (you know, the version that had the Service Console).

For all recent releases of ESXi including 5.5 to 6.7, the default hashing algorithm has been SHA512 for quite some time now. Below are two ways in which you can check which default hashing algorithm is currently being used:

Option 1 - SSH to ESXi host and take a look at /etc/pam.d/passwd


Option 2 - SSH to ESXi host and take a look at /etc/shadow and look at the field prior to the salt.

As a reference:

  • $1$ - MD5
  • $5$ - SHA256
  • $6$ - SHA512

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