I think it is important to talk about vendors. One of the main set of comments from attendees is that they do not feel that they are being sold to at any point. Are there vendors present – absolutely! Do some wish to promote themselves – of course! But there seems to be a certain unwritten code of behaviour for vendors at FIRST that they do not promote themselves in the normal way they may do at say an exhibition.
For example if a vendor is to give a talk, they don’t promote their products. In the same way that the speakers from the military, academia, government and commercial companies don’t promote anything apart from the sharing and dissemination of information. Much of the visibility of the vendor is through sponsorship such as the Bear and Gear evening sponsored by ISS and Assuria and obviously taking clients out for dinners – hey guys, I’m still waiting for my free dinner….:-).
Personally, I have no problems with security vendors as I believe that many have to go through equally rigid security practices and probably get attacked more by hackers than any other organisation and so just think of what you can learn from their experience of dealing with these situations.