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Understanding CIDR

NetWatcher uses CIDR notation several places within it's portal user interfaces (example: the Vulnerability Scanner allows the user to enter an IP range and CIDR to scan).   For those that understand TCP/IP this is second nature, but to those that are new to the depths of networking it can be a confusing subject as it builds on how IP addressing works in general.  This link does a great job of outlining addressing and CIDR:




CIDR Notation

A system called Classless Inter-Domain Routing, or CIDR, was developed as an alternative to traditional subnetting. The idea is that you can add a specification in the IP address itself as to the number of significant bits that make up the routing or networking portion.

For example, we could express the idea that the IP address is associated with the netmask by using the CIDR notation of This means that the first 24 bits of the IP address given are considered significant for the network routing.

This allows us some interesting possibilities. We can use these to reference "supernets". In this case, we mean a more inclusive address range that is not possible with a traditional subnet mask. For instance, in a class C network, like above, we could not combine the addresses from the networks and because the netmask for class C addresses is

However, using CIDR notation, we can combine these blocks by referencing this chunk as This specifies that there are 23 bits used for the network portion that we are referring to.

So the first network ( could be represented like this in binary:

1100 0000 - 1010 1000 - 0000 0000 - 0000 0000

While the second network ( would be like this:

1100 0000 - 1010 1000 - 0000 0001 - 0000 0000

The CIDR address we specified indicates that the first 23 bits are used for the network block we are referencing. This is equivalent to a netmask of, or:

1111 1111 - 1111 1111 - 1111 1110 - 0000 0000

As you can see, with this block the 24th bit can be either 0 or 1 and it will still match, because the network block only cares about the first 23 digits.

Basically, CIDR allows us more control over addressing continuous blocks of IP addresses. 


If you want to see the details of an IP Address/CIDR you can use this calculator (to test is use something like "".  This is from 



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