Enabling Remote Work for the NHS: A Case Study on Excellence in Cybersecurity

Case study: NHS


In the early months of 2020, as the world grappled with the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic, the NHS faced an immense challenge of ensuring that its staff could work remotely without compromising the security of patient data. Samurai Digital Security was entrusted with this monumental task to secure the NHS’s burgeoning Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI).

Samurai Digital Security was not just hired for its stellar reputation in digital security but also for its demonstrated capability to undertake massive projects at speed. The company lived up to its name—agile and skilled like a samurai—when it swiftly and securely orchestrated a large percentage of the NHS staff’s transition from on-site to remote work.

From the outset, Samurai took advantage of the VDI system still being in the developmental phase. This provided the unique opportunity to employ collaborative testing methodologies, working in tandem with developers to preemptively identify and mitigate any security risks.


Cybersecurity Consultancy

Remediation Guidance


The NHS, being a vital part of the UK’s infrastructure, is a well-known target for cyberattacks. The challenges were multifaceted and had to be addressed within tight time constraints:

  • NHS’s high-profile nature making it a target for cyber-attacks.
  • The urgency to implement secure remote working solutions due to the pandemic.
  • Ensuring the secure transfer of highly sensitive patient data.
  • Accommodating a high-traffic infrastructure without compromising on security.
  • Architecting the system in a way that avoids a single point of failure, thereby ensuring high availability.

Project Approach


Samurai Digital Security’s approach was deeply rooted in the philosophy of ‘security by design’. From day one, a culture centred around security was established among the project teams. This culture served as a bedrock, allowing Samurai to lay down a secure foundation for the VDI infrastructure right from its conceptual phase.


A focus on robust, secure technical deployment was paramount. Knowing that the VDI would be an integral part of the NHS’s strategy to battle COVID-19, Samurai made sure that the solution was not just safe but also highly reliable. Special emphasis was placed on security testing, especially as staff would be connecting through their personal devices.

Samurai adhered to the strictest security standards, taking into account both UK and Australian NCSC guidelines for securing Windows end-user devices. Furthermore, Samurai employed their proprietary offensive security methodology to actively exploit and thus secure the system. Various areas were meticulously evaluated:

  • Authentication mechanisms
  • User account privileges
  • Network segmentation
  • Firewall configurations
  • External footprint
  • [Redacted] and other proprietary considerations


To validate the security posture of the VDI, Samurai conducted a range of controlled attacks simulating diverse threat scenarios. These scenarios were designed to emulate threats from multiple types of actors, ranging from malicious insiders to external hackers. This comprehensive testing strategy provided valuable insights into the VDI’s resilience, stability, and security.

Bias Mitigation

The project was designed to ensure objectivity and reduce bias. Different teams handled each stage, operating in silos, and their efforts were coordinated by an adept project management team. To add an additional layer of validation, Samurai collaborated with another security partner, ensuring the highest levels of accuracy.

Output & Benefits

Secure Transition to Remote Working

Samurai Digital Security successfully navigated the complexities of transitioning a large segment of NHS staff to a remote working environment. By doing so, they played a crucial role in enabling the NHS to maintain healthcare services without interruptions during the pandemic. Samurai’s solution allowed for a seamless transition, ensuring that clinical staff could focus on providing patient care rather than grappling with technical difficulties.

The Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) designed and implemented by Samurai was robust enough to withstand a range of simulated cyber-attacks, passing rigorous testing standards. Not only was this platform secure, but it was also designed with the user in mind, allowing for a frictionless user experience for the NHS staff. This represents a significant milestone in healthcare cybersecurity, setting a precedent for other organisations to follow.

Operational Continuity

Samurai’s rapid and efficient deployment ensured that there was no downtime during the transition phase, thereby contributing to the uninterrupted provision of healthcare services. Their solution also incorporated scalable features to accommodate future growth and technological advancements.

Data Integrity

Handling sensitive medical data requires stringent security protocols. Samurai’s VDI solution ensured that the data in transit and at rest was encrypted, secure, and compliant with all regulatory requirements. This bolstered the NHS’s reputation for maintaining high standards in data protection, thereby increasing trust among patients and stakeholders.


By adopting a ‘security by design’ approach, Samurai mitigated potential vulnerabilities from the get-go, reducing the need for costly fixes down the line. This approach not only resulted in a robust, secure system but also saved valuable resources for the NHS. The cost savings can be better utilised in other critical areas of healthcare.

Resilience Against Future Threats

The architecture was designed with the flexibility to adapt to emerging cybersecurity threats. Features can be updated or new layers of security added, making it a future-proof solution that provides long-term benefits.


“When I have a problem nobody else can solve, I call Samurai because I know that they’ll deliver what I need, every time, without fail.”

Anonymous Director, NHS Connected Nottinghamshire 

*Some information is redacted from this case study for client security, reference details are available on request.

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