When browsing online it can be difficult to know how safe and secure your computer really is. There are a lot of malicious websites on the Internet, and stumbling across just one of them can be extremely harmful if you haven’t taken some steps to protect your computer. A common misconception when securing your files is that it is either too hard or too expensive – neither of which are true. You don’t need to be an expert in IT to take a few basic steps to ensure your computer is that little bit more secure.Here are 5 top tips to protect your computer online:1. Internet Browser – If you are using a Windows PC then by default you may be using Internet Explorer to browse the Internet. This browser has been upgraded to be more secure, but it still contains a lot of vulnerabilities – especially the older versions. Try using one of the newer browsers such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Upgrading your Internet browser is beneficial for security.2. OS Updates – With any operating system there will be certain issues that can be improved upon. When a new operating system is released it is only a matter of time before a flaw has been found, and the companies work fast to release updates to prevent this. Keep your computer up to date with the latest operating system updates to ensure your computer is fully prepared.3. Antivirus – Having a good antivirus installed can be critical to protecting your computer online. No matter how secure you are, without an antivirus you are still very vulnerable. It is better to pay for antivirus software, but you can still get good ones for cheap, such as AVG. Before browsing on the Internet you should install an antivirus that will help prevent your computer from being infected with any malicious content.4. Firewall – Similar to an antivirus, a firewall helps to protect your computer from harmful content. A firewall is useful to block programs accessing the Internet without consent, and works well to spot potential issues while on the web. Some firewalls are available for free, but you can use the built in one if you are on a Windows machine.5. Don’t Be Fooled – Now although this isn’t a tip as such, it is probably the most important security prevention you can take. When browsing the Internet, be careful what websites you go on and what files you download. Avoid installing toolbar addons for your Internet browser or downloading programs for your computer unless you know they are secure. Malware and spyware is a very big issue online, so do your best to prevent it by sticking to trusted websites.The above tips to protect your computer online and just some of the preventions you can take when using the Internet. By keeping your computer secure you are also keeping your files and identity safe – so it is your best interest to take a couple of steps to protect your computer.