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Active networks aim to provide a software framework that enables network applications to customize the processing of their communication packets. Security is of critical importance to the success of active networking. This paper presents a design and a description of the implementation for securing the node of an active network using active networking principles. The secure node architecture includes an active node operating system security API, an active security guardian, and quality of protection (QoP) provisions. The architecture supports highly customized and situational policies created by users and applications dynamically. It permits active nodes to satisfy the application-specific dynamic security and protection requirements. The secure node architecture can provide a fundamental base for securing the active network infrastructure. We describe the integration of secure node architecture into an active network software system to demonstrate its flexible and innovative features.