A system provides for establishing security in a network that include nodes having security functions operating in multiple protocol layers. Multiple network devices, such as remote access equipment, routers, switches, repeaters and network cards having security functions are configured to contribute to implementation of distributed firewall functions in the network. By distributing firewall functionality throughout many layers of the network in a variety of network devices, a pervasive firewall is implemented. The pervasive, multilayer firewall includes a policy definition component that accepts policy data that defines how the firewall should behave. The policy definition component can be a centralized component, or a component that is distributed over the network. The multilayer firewall also includes a collection of network devices that are used to enforce the defined policy. The security functions operating in this collection of network devices across multiple protocol layers are coordinated by the policy definition component so that particular devices enforce that part of the policy pertinent to their part of the network.