What causes the ships to be covered in electricity?

Hi there, I was playing some GSB today, and I noticed that sometimes my ships will be covered in electricity and unable to act for a short period of time. What causes this? Is it some kind of special weapon? If so, what is it called?

It’s caused by ECM weapons (which is an innacurate name, I think it was probably meant to be EMP). These come as either a blue-white beam, or as missiles that annoyingly look just like all other missiles. It disables the target from firing any weapons for a fixed amount of time. It may or may not affect other things like self-repair, cloaking etc, I can’t actually remember. It does NOT prevent your ships from moving.
There are modules that theoretically provide immunity to this effect, but the math involved is not obvious - one such module will often not prevent the EMP from happening. Generally, anti-ECM is a waste of a module slot unless you definitely know that you’re fighting an opponent that heavily relies on ECM weapons.

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Thanks, that clears things up. Is EMP blocked by shields?

No. Weapons that cause both damage and EMP will have the damage blocked I believe, but the EMP effect bypasses shields completely