• As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered its first winter in late 2022, nearly half of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure had been destroyed, leaving millions without power. The resulting energy deficit has exacerbated something that hasn’t had much media attention: The effects of electronic GPS jammers affecting vital electrical equipment.
  • Ukraine’s high-voltage electricity substations rely on GPS for time synchronization. So, when the GPS is jammed, the stations can’t accurately report to power dispatchers on the state of the grid.
  • This complicates efforts to balance loads between different parts of the system, which is necessary to avoid outages and failure — especially during peak demand and surge times. Until recently, there was no solution to this problem.
  • Cisco Talos worked alongside several other teams at Cisco, along with government partners in the U.S and Ukraine, to find a technological solution.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Talos has been unwavering in our commitment to protect Ukrainian critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.

In this blog post, you won’t find any mention of malware, DDoS, or espionage campaigns. In fact, it’s not about cybersecurity at all. This is a story about electronic warfare and GPS. It’s about how one chance conversation over dinner led me on a path through Cisco to find a solution to some very tough questions, and difficult answers.

So, who am I? My name is Joe Marshall. I work at Cisco Talos as a cyber threat researcher and security strategist. My expertise is in industrial control systems and electric grids. My colleagues and friends at Talos are on the front lines of keeping the internet safe — and from more than just cyber threats, as you’ll read.

Project PowerUp is the story of how Cisco Talos worked with a multi-national, multi-company coalition of volunteers and experts to inject a measure of stability in Ukraine’s power transmission grid.

Our ultimate goal was to “keep the lights on” in Ukraine, and help make the lives of Ukrainians who are living in an active war zone, just that little bit easier.