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  • From left, co-founders of Luminal, Dom Zippilli, Principal Architect; Josh Stella, CEO; Matthew Brinkman, Principal Engineer; Andrew Wright, Marketing. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

  • From left, Wayne Crissman, senior engineer, and Racquel Yerbury, writer and editor. (The Daily Record/Maximilian Franz)

  • From left, Henry Harding, Luminal’s lead designer, and senior engineer Tyler Drombosky work next to a prototype. Luminal, a cybersecurity startup, relocated from West Virginia to Frederick after receiving a $600,000 investment from the state.

Cybersecurity’s new frontier

The exterior walls of Luminal’s downtown Frederick headquarters office are made of brick.

But the company isn’t focused on walls. Its software aims to make a computer system more secure from the inside, instead of relying only on exterior defenses.

“There’s a moment in time when you stop building fortresses because the weapons are too good. … We’re well past that point in cybersecurity,” said Luminal CEO and co-founder Josh Stella. “We impart security to the system itself.”

And the company is doing so in the cloud, a place where many worry about vulnerability but where businesses can find great efficiencies.

“For many companies, the cloud provides them the ability to be much more cost effective,” said Stella. But “they’re afraid that being out in the cloud lowers their security.”

Stella couldn’t say much more to describe Luminal’s product, Fugue, since it is still in the private beta stage. But he did say that it’s getting attention from potential customers — government entities and commercial companies that are currently using the free beta version of Fugue. The company is aiming to release a paid version in the second half of this year.

Luminal plans to grow in the near term, using the money from its most recent financing round in which it raised $3.8 million from a variety of investors, including Core Capital Partners and New Enterprise Associates.

Another major contributor that invested $600,000 in the company this week was the Maryland Venture Fund, a partnership between the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and several venture capital firms. Luminal was also able to apply for the state’s Cybersecurity Investment Tax Credit once it moved to Frederick last year from West Virginia.

But state money wasn’t the only draw.

Three of the company’s founders, Stella, Dom Zippilli and Matt Brinkman, are from West Virginia, while the other, Andrew Wright, is from Washington.

But Maryland as a state takes cybersecurity seriously, said Stella, and the business community understands it well.

“Maryland, in general, we felt was just the right place for us to be,” said Wright, who handles the business and marketing side of Luminal. “This is where cybersecurity happens.”

Because the state is home to many cybersecurity-focused companies, he said, and state colleges have beefed up their cyber programs, talent is nearby and plentiful. Since Luminal is looking to potentially double its staff in the next year, that could prove useful.

In its Cybersecurity Jobs Report, the CyberPoint Technology & Innovation Center listed more than 70 cybersecurity businesses with a presence in Maryland, in addition to defense industry companies and government agencies nearby.

“It’s pretty obvious that cybersecurity is fundamentally broken. All you have to do is open a newspaper and see the news of some big breach,” he said. “There’s just tons of smart people out there trying to find solutions.”

But there’s plenty of room for all of those ideas. The CyberPoint report, released in 2013, said there were nearly 20,000 cybersecurity job openings in Maryland.

“We’re at the beginning of having a secure computer infrastructure,” said Stella. “There’s a lot of opportunity to invest many things and create many things to contribute to that.”