Researchers at the cybersecurity firm Mandiant have uncovered a new campaign from state-sponsored Russian hacker group APT 29.

The malicious campaign targets diplomats and government agencies using spear phishing to deploy a novel strain of malware.

Victims are tricked into downloading the malicious files via spear-phishing emails disguised as embassy administrative updates.

To bypass spam filters and other detections, APT 29 used legitimate email addresses from other diplomatic entities while targeting large publicly available lists of embassy personnel.

The malicious mail sent to diplomats uses the malicious HTML dropper ROOTSAW (also known as EnvyScout) to deliver and decode IMG or ISO files.

Both IMG and ISO can be written to disk and execute a malicious .DLL file that contains the BEATDROP downloader.

BEATDROP and BEACON can guarantee backdoor access to a victim’s network. After that, they quickly deploy BOOMMIC to gain deeper access into the victim’s environment. Once BOOMMIC is deployed, it downloads malicious payloads into memory on a target machine.