Every year China's railways face an onslaught of millions of travelers heading home for family visits to mark the Lunar New Year. Train stations become mob scenes.

The annual crush has created a sales opportunity for a Baltimore company that specializes in data encryption. SafeNet Inc. said it has been selected by the Guangzhou Railway Group to set up a secure online ticketing system.

"It will allow individuals to avoid the enormous long lines that queue up to purchase tickets at the railway," said Tony Caputo, SafeNet's chief executive, while providing security against black-market and counterfeit tickets. He declined to disclose the contract price.

Workers can buy train tickets through employers, who will verify the purchases online through SafeNet's key-size token, which plugs into a computer's USB port.

SafeNet was founded 22 years ago by former employees of the National Security Agency, Caputo said. The company, a major provider of encryption technology to the federal government, has developed hardware, software and chip designs for private industry as online commerce has grown. The company has more than 900 employees, including 50 in China and 140 in India.

Caputo said U.S. companies have yet to catch up with the Guangzhou Railway in providing advanced security for customers. For example, he said, U.S. banks could give customers security tokens that would plug into home computers, bolstering a user's passwords to verify identity for online banking.

SafeNet Inc. of Baltimore is to provide encryption services for online ticketing to help relieve crowding in Guangzhou Railway stations at the Chinese New Year travel season.