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An active network is a network in which the nodes are programmed to perform custom operations on the messages that pass through the node. For example, a node could be programmed or customized to handle packets on an individual user basis or to handle multicast packets differently than other packets. Active network approaches are expected to be especially important in networks of mobile users. "Smart packets" use a special self-describing language that allows new kinds of information to be carried within a packet and operated on by a node.
A Secure Active Network Environment (SANE) is an architecture for a trusted or secure active network.