Transmitting data over insecure connections presents a security risk because malicious users might be able to scan data as it travels through the network. As a safeguard, network components commonly encrypt the data so that it cannot be easily read.

To encrypt data, the sending component, such as a gateway or redirector, applies cryptographic algorithms, or ciphers, to alter the data before transmitting it. The receiving component uses a key to decrypt the data, returning it to its original form. Several ciphers are in use, and the level of security that each provides is different. One measure of a cipher’s ability to protect data is its cipher strength—the number of bits in the encryption key. The larger the number, the more secure the cipher.

To ensure the protection of the data transmitted to and from external network connections, ESXi uses one of the strongest block ciphers available—256-bit AES block encryption. ESXi also uses 1024-bit RSA for key exchange. These encryption algorithms are the default for the following connections.

vSphere Client connections to vCenter Server and to ESXi through the management interface.

SDK connections to vCenter Server and to ESXi.

Management interface connections to virtual machines through the VMkernel.

SSH connections to ESXi through the management interface.