Consumers and businesses have begun to demand that software makers stop selling faulty products that are easily attacked and vulnerable to computer worms. A McLean start-up company, Secure Software Inc., is trying to make a profit showing them how to do that.

Secure Software was founded in March 2001 by John Viega, a security expert who co-wrote the book "Building Secure Software" (2001, Addison-Wesley Publishing Co.). The company originally focused on providing consulting services. When a software maker needed to test the strength of its product, Viega's team would test it, find possible bugs and help the client build new safeguards.

The company set out to raise venture capital last year and in January brought on a seasoned industry executive, Kevin Kernan, to manage its growth. Today, Secure Software continues to provide consulting services, but has begun to focus more on creating a product that software makers can use themselves.

Rather than wait until consumers discover product glitches, software companies "need to be thinking about security when they are building the application," said Kernan. And while most of Secure Software's competitors are also based on providing services, Kernan believes the market is now demanding a tool that can accomplish the same task.

Today, the company is to announce a $5.2 million round of funding from Charles River Ventures and Valhalla Partners. The funds, Kernan said, are to be used to build its own software product, which in now in testing and is to be released by year-end.

Along with software markers, the company is planning to target financial services companies and government buyers that also produce their own applications.

Kevin Kernan is directing Secure Software's move from providing services to developing a security product that software makers can use themselves.