WordPress Security

Custom login page for WordPress

How to rename wp-login.php, create a custom login URL, and protect WordPress from automated brute-force and bot attacks.

The custom login page feature is a great tool for reducing the attack surface and eliminating spam registrations. It’s the first thing you should enable on a newly installed WordPress. Another highly recommended security measure is renaming WordPress’s plugins folder.

Why it matters and why it works

According to our studies at Cerber Lab, most hacker tools and attacks are based on assumptions that a victim WordPress-powered website has the default login page, and plugins are located in the default folder. Although it’s recommended not to use default values on any website, many website owners ignore these simple principles, allowing hackers to attack them with success. And that’s why hackers so love WordPress, and at any given time, we see hundreds of thousands of hacked websites.

Configure your custom login page

WP Cerber enables you easily and safely change the default WordPress login URL wp-login.php to any URL you need. In other words, you can configure your unique, known-to-you custom login page (a custom login URL means the same in this context) and hide wp-login.php from bad actors, scanners, and bots. You don’t need to edit the .htaccess file or rename the wp-login.php file. With WP Cerber you can configure it in several clicks.

  1. Go to the plugin Main Settings admin page.
  2. Enter your new desired login URL into the Custom login URL field and saves settings. That’s it.
  3. If you use a caching plugin, add your new login URL to the list of pages not to cache.
  4. Make sure that your new login URL works correctly and you can use it to log in. Do that in an incognito browser window. Do not log out from your website until you make sure that your new login URL works well.
WordPress login security and custom login page settings

Custom WordPress login page settings

How to hide wp-login.php from bots and scanners

Once you’ve enabled the customer login page, it makes sense to hide the default WordPress login page to prevent mounting brute-force attacks on it. To achieve this, set the Processing wp-login.php authentication requests setting to “Block access to wp-login.php”. When attempting to access the page, WP Cerber will render the standard “404 Not Found” page. There is only one downside you should think about. If an attacker is smart enough, they may continue scanning the website, searching for your real login page.

How to disable wp-login.php

Another more advanced option you should consider is disabling wp-login.php without blocking access to it. How does it work? This unique WP Cerber feature stops any attempt to authenticate through wp-login.php. When attempting to log in, WP Cerber mimics the default incorrect password error and aborts the user authentication process. It doesn’t matter what password is entered; nobody is allowed to log in even with the correct password. To enable this feature, set the Processing wp-login.php authentication requests setting to “Deny authentication through wp-login.php”.

A caution to remember

If you or your user forget that wp-login.php is disabled and cannot be used for logging in, you or your user will never be able to log into the website and will get locked after several attempts to use wp-login.php.

If you have set “Processing wp-login.php authentication requests” to any value other than the default one, you can only use your custom login URL. Neither /wp-login.php nor /wp-admin/ can be used for logging in anymore.

Important things you need to know

  • If you use a caching plugin like W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache you have to add the slug of the new Custom login URL to the list of pages not to cache.
  • For a WordPress multisite installation, the new login URL is set for all sites globally.
  • Do not delete or rename the wp-login.php file manually. After updating your WordPress to a newer version, wp-login.php will be restored and accessible for intruders again.

Get it more secure with Two-Factor Authentication

Consider enabling 2FA to protect admins’ accounts. Two-Factor Authentication provides an additional layer of security requiring a second factor of identification beyond just a username and password.

Know more: How to enable Two-Factor Authentication for WordPress

Troubleshooting the Custom login URL feature

Enabling the custom login page may cause some plugins to stop working. If you use a login page customization plugin or a social login plugin, it’s possible such a plugin doesn’t work anymore. To fix this issue, enable “Defer rendering the custom login page”. Read more about this setting.

If you’ve set up your Custom login URL and after a while forgot it, first of all, check the site admin email box for a notification email about your new login URL or any email weekly report. In those emails, you can see your Custom login URL. If you are unable to find such a email, you need to reinstall WP Cerber manually following the steps below.

  1. Delete the plugin folder /wp-cerber/ manually by using FTP or any File Manager in your hosting control panel.
  2. Log into your WordPress dashboard as usual by using default /wp-login.php URL or another way that you used to use prior enabling the Custom login URL.
  3. Install and activate the WP Cerber Security plugin as usual.
  4. Go to the plugin Main Settings page.
  5. Check the Custom login URL field. It displays your Custom login URL that you have to use. Remember it.

Next steps that’ll strengthen your WordPress security

Have any questions?

If you have a question regarding WordPress security or WP Cerber, leave them in the comments section below or get them answered on the community forum.

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I'm a software engineer and team lead at Cerber Tech. I started coding in 1993 on IBM System/370 and today software engineering at Cerber Tech is how I make my living.

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