The future Internet environment is likely to be increasingly dependent on an agent-based model of computing, with significant implications for Internet security. Agents are executable software objects with executions that are not tied to any specific host or computing resource or to any geographical or logical network location. Agents perform computation and communication defined by a user, but the execution platforms are typically outside the user's administrative control (and outside the administrative control of the user's organization). The conceptual model of agent operation is one in which an intelligent agent, at the request of a user, goes to one or more remote hosts to perform a computation or gather information and then returns to the user with the result. An agent's mode of operation may range from partially to fully autonomous, and the degree to which an agent is autonomous may vary throughout the life of that agent.
A future agent-based computing environment may include features such as these: