A new cybersecurity startup founded by former Carbon Black CTO Harry Sverdlove and former Endeca exec Peter Smith has come out of stealth mode with $7 million in funding from three venture capital firms and four cybersecurity CEOs in the Boston area.

Edgewise Networks, which is using machine learning to make a better network firewall of sorts, is backed by Threat Stack CEO Brian Ahern, Veracode CEO Bob Brennan, former Imprivata CEO Omar Hussein and Sverdlove’s former boss, Carbon Black CEO Patrick Morley. The VC firms backing Edgewise are .406 Ventures, Accomplice and Pillar, which first disclosed its investment earlier this year.

Unlike traditional firewalls, which monitor traffic coming in and out of networks to protect against cyber attacks, Edgewise’s Trusted Application Networking product focuses on the applications themselves by only allowing trusted applications to communicate with each other over approved network paths. This means that instead of only being able to protect against cyber attacks coming from the outside, Edgewise can help prevent attacks that come within the network, such as when an employee’s laptop gets compromised.

“The problem is firewalls can only protect what they see.”

Smith, who was most recently an executive at Infinio Systems, told BostInno that Edgewise’s product can replace traditional firewall systems.

“The problem is firewalls can only protect what they see. Ninety-eight percent of the network attack surface lives behind the firewall, which can’t protect [against more insidious attacks],” Smith said.

Edgewise, which now has 17 employees after being founded last year, uses machine learning to understand the way applications communicate with each other within a company’s network. It then uses that as the basis for a set of security policy recommendations for which applications to trust. Because the software focuses on the actual applications instead of the network addresses through which they communicate, it can significantly reduce the number of policies, from the tens of thousands to just a handful.

Sverdlove likened the approach to being able to approve phone contacts based on someone’s unique identity, regardless of which phone number they’re using. “It’s about the identity of the person and not the phone number,” he said.

That idea of focusing on the applications instead of the actual network traffic is what prompted cybersecurity executives like Veracode CEO Bob Brennan to back the company.

“In the face of present threats exploiting vulnerabilities in business applications, it is vital to ensure that only trustworthy software is allowed to communicate in company’s cloud and data center,” Brennan said in a statement.